CRANBERRY — Jake Guentzel, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-line left winger, took another step in his recovery from ankle surgery Friday.
He initially participated in an on-ice practice with a number of other players, including those who had been placed on waivers the previous day. It was the first time during this training camp that Guentzel has worked out with players who are not injured.
Guentzel then joined the regular team practice, joining the players who had dressed for the Penguins’ 3-1 preseason victory against Buffalo at PPG Paints Arena Thursday night. He was the only skater in a white jersey, which signified that he was not ready for contact.
“We’re trying to get a certain workload with Jake,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s progressing. We’re real encouraged with how far he’s come.”
The Penguins have not announced a change to the projected timetable for Guentzel’s return — the initial word was that he is likely to miss the first few weeks of the regular season — but it seems possible that he could return earlier if he doesn’t suffer a setback before the opener Oct. 10 against Chicago.
“He looks like he’s progressing really well,” said right winger Bryan Rust, Guentzel’s frequent linemate. “He’s been skating for a little while now. Obviously, I’m not part of the medical staff, so I don’t really know exactly what’s going on, but anytime you see him out with the group in any capacity is a big step forward.”
Friday afternoon, Guentzel accompanied his teammates to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they will face Ottawa in a preseason game Monday evening.
Defenseman Owen Pickering, who was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-round draft choice in 2022 and had not practiced with the team during this camp, also took part in the first workout Guentzel was in. Pickering had an individual workout on the ice before that group session.