Midway through the NHL Offseason, one of the most talked about names for the Pittsburgh Penguins is Forward Daniel Sprong.
Even after just a handful of games in the NHL, most Pittsburgh Penguins fans are already labeling him as a top line forward for next season. But, what Pens fans should label him as is a great trade chip.
Sprong is looking like he could become a legit top-six forward in the NHL. He tore it up this past season in the QMJHL with the Charlottetown Checkers. Sprong put up 32 goals and 27 assists in only 31 games played. He added another 20 points in 12 playoff games.
People should look past his sub par performance in his 18 games with the Penguins where he only tallied 2 goals. He was playing under a very defensive Mike Johnson system and averaged 4th line minutes. He was put in a bad spot. This is why Pens fans are excited to see what he can do under Mike Sullivan’s system.
I say, the results won’t be very much different. The Pens are log jammed at the right wing position with Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, and Bryan Rust. That leaves Sprong back on the 4th line where he started with the Pens. Rust is looking to be a main stay on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. That line was a force when they were paired together in the playoffs. Evgeni Malkin enjoys playing with Kessel on his wing. And Hornqvist has been juggling around in the top-9, but he is too good to be a 4th line right winger. This all means that Sprong will have to switch wings which could be a struggle for the young forward.
The other obvious reason to trade him is the Pens sudden lack of strength at the center position. This is especially because of Crosby and Malkin. After Nick Bonino left in free agency to the Nashville Predators, and Matt Cullen’s pending retirement or homecoming with the Minnesota Wild, there is a hole in the 3rd line center position. Carter Rowney will be the Pens 4th line center this upcoming season. He played very well in that position after Cullen was bumped up due to the Bonino injury in the Stanley Cup Finals. Don’t expect Rowney to move away from that position for a while. Putting Sprong on the trading block will absolutely have most teams attention.
While Sprong seems to be another young addition to the team, there is also Zach Aston-Reese. Aston-Reese is another great young winger chopping at the bit to make the Penguins roster. Aston-Reese makes Sprong expendable. With big names like Matt Duchene and Jordan Staal surrounded by trade rumors to the Pens, Sprong will be the perfect trade chip to center a deal around.