Penguins Star Jake Guentzel Turns Huge Corner On Tuesday

No more no-contact jerseys for Pittsburgh Penguins star Jake Guentzel. Today, he ditched the "hands off" white jersey at practice, to take the next huge step to being ready to return after early August ankle surgery.

The black jersey denotes a full-contact practice load for Guentzel, who only rejoined his teammates on the ice in any capacity four days ago. 

And even better news is how the Pens' top-line forward felt after the practice:

"I felt great," said Guentzel. "It was obviously nice to be back out with the guys again, and just to see the faces and be out with the new guys - it’s always fun. So, exciting day for sure. This is just the first step." 

The point-per-game forward admitted, however, that there’s no change to his projected return-to-play status, which was to miss "about five games."

Guentzel is playing out the final year of his contract this season, and there's been no indication yet about any extension talks. As a free agent, assuming he's healthy, the 28-year-old would be in huge demand, as his 197 goals in his seven-year career ranks him 6th among all NHL left-wingers in that span.

Consider this latest development great news for the Penguins.

Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports