Jooris back from Wilkes-Barre, maybe this time to stick

Josh Jooris' first stint with the Penguins lasted just two games. His latest stay could be for a little bit longer.

On Sunday, the Penguins recalled Jooris from Wilkes-Barres/Scranton on an emergency basis after sending him down last week. Prior to that, he appeared in games last weekend against the Maple Leafs and Stars.  Though he didn't register a point, Jooris had three shots and acquitted himself well centering the fourth line.

Jooris was acquired from the Hurricanes at the trade deadline in exchange for minor-league forward Greg McKegg. Jooris' recall became necessary when Carter Rowney's season from hell took another southern detour.

Mike Sullivan confirmed on Saturday that Rowney would be out "longer term" with an upper body injury sustained two nights earlier in Montreal.  It's the third significant injury that Rowney has suffered this season after missing 13 games in the fall with a fractured hand and 11 games in January with another upper body injury.

With Jooris in and Rowney out, it could allow Sullivan to get creative with his line combinations and penalty killing unit.

It could be argued that Jooris, who showed good chemistry with Tom Kuhnhackl against Toronto and Dallas, is a slight upgrade over Rowney.

In between his injuries, Rowney has just five points this season with two goals and three assists. Though he's one of the Penguins' primary penalty killers, he's a minus-13 and has one of the lowest possession averages (46.0) at even strength.  Over the last four games, the Penguins' 17th-ranked penalty kill continued to sputter, allowing six goals on just 10 chances.

Jooris has some pedigree, scoring a dozen goals in 60 games with the Flames four years ago. Though he didn't see any time on the PK during his last callup to the Penguins, he had served in that role in Carolina, averaging 1:46 shorthanded in 31 games this season. In 206 career games, he has three shorthanded goals.

The addition of Rowney could also allow Riley Sheahan to move to third-line left wing where he has seen some time with Derick Brassard and Phil Kessel.

Theoretically, it would also allow Bryan Rust to move up to the the top line at right wing, his strong side, and would move the struggling Conor Sheary down to the fourth line.

Anyway, it's something to ponder until Zach Aston-Reese -- out since Feb. 26 with an upper body injury -- returns. Aston-Reese skated on his own after Saturday's practice at the Lemieux Sports Complex and could be close to returning, though it doesn't appear imminent.

The rookie had four goals and an assist in his last six games before injuring himself in practice. His return will give Sullivan even greater options and a tough decision on who to sit. That's a problem the coach won't mind having.

The Penguins will practice tomorrow morning in Cranberry Township before flying to New York where they'll take on the Islanders on Tuesday night.

We'll have complete coverage from practice on Monday.

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