From this point forward, any game Daniel Sprong does not play at the NHL level will be in the AHL for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton affiliate.
After his team lost it’s playoff series Saturday, Sprong will no longer be eligible to play in the junior leagues. He must play in WBS if the Penguins choose to leave him off the opening night roster in October.
Make no mistake about it, he could be an upgrade to the Pens current roster but it would surprise me greatly if he jumped above the AHL. With the Baby Pens currently in a playoff series against Providence, a team who is littered with the NHL youngsters that were knocked out in round one, the Baby Pens could use a pure scoring talent like Sprong. But he’s a much more well rounded player than he was in his only NHL go around to date.
Under Mike Johnston, Sprong wasn’t given ideal playing time because the staff was torn about his defensive ability. That didn’t change too much under Mike Sullivan when he arrived. This version of Sprong is much different.
Although I’m not a +/- advocate, his was a plus-29 in 32 regular season games played. He has never been a “plus” player in his career. This season has proven that his extra year of development in Charlottetown may have delayed his first full NHL season, but could benefit the Penguins greatly in the long term.
Everyone wants to see Sprong eventually play with Sidney Crosby as Sprong is the coveted prospect of a bunch of minor league players who have come to the NHL with no let up. Sprong may not start that way next season as long as Jake Guentzel has something to say about it. But if Sprong’s goal scoring ability can combine with a knack for being a two way player, oh my lord the Penguins could be in for a treat.
Not that this really means anything but almost every single young call up the Pens have had exceeded expectations when they got here. If Sprong does that, wow.
We all remember this:
Sprong took a Matt Cullen feed and buried it behind Senators goaltender Craig Anderson. It was one of the fastest releases I’ve ever seen. Anderson wasn’t ready and Sprong buried his first and jumped into the boards where a crowd of fans awaited him.
There is tons of hype around Sprong and what he could do for the Penguins in the coming seasons. He’s an electrifying goal scorer who will be called up to do just that. His defensive game hopefully has improved as that was what had made him a healthy scratch on many occasions. He should open the 2017-18′ season on the Penguins roster but under some weird circumstance that he doesn’t, expect him to play very shortly after and stick with this club for a long, long time.