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Penguins Update: The Sprong Conundrum – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: The Sprong Conundrum

It’s the white elephant in the Penguins’ dressing room.

What to do with Daniel Sprong. Keep him? Or send him back to the Quebec League for another year of seasoning.

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Financial and contractual considerations loom large. If the speedy 6’0″ 180-pounder plays two more games, it’ll lop a year off his entry contract. If he skates in 40 games for the black and gold? The clock starts ticking on his seven years needed to earn UFA status.

A tough call for GM Jim Rutherford—especially when it involves a youngster who promises to be an offensive linchpin in the very near future.

Observations

In many ways Sprong reminds me of Pierre Larouche. Not so much in terms of style. Rather attitude and flair—not to mention an uncanny nose for the net.

Indeed, when “Lucky Pierre” first broke in as a precocious 19-year-old way back in the fall of 1974, he wasn’t expected to make the team. Shifty, gifted and oh-so-clever, the cocky kid from Taschereau, Quebec forced the Penguins’ hand. Much like Sprong has done this season.

Larouche scored 31 goals that year. Fifty-three the next. While I’m not predicting the same heights for Sprong, the kid exudes a similar confidence. And big-time potential.

Sprong by the Numbers

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team LGE GP G A PTS +/- PIM GP G A PTS PIM
2013-14 Charlottetown QMJHL 67 30 38 68 -20 20 4 4 1 5 0
2014-15 Charlottetown QMJHL 68 39 49 88 -23 18 10 7 4 11 6
2015-16 Pittsburgh NHL 8 1 0 1 0 0

Keep

There’s no doubt Sprong has the skill set to compete in the NHL. Despite limited opportunities to display his wares, the 18-year-old’s dazzled with his moves, instincts, and release.

“He’s played well,” Rutherford said. “When he gets the puck, he goes to the net. He creates scoring chances.”

With the recent return of veterans Pascal Dupuis and Eric Fehr, the Dutch import appears to be the odd-man out. However, injuries do occur. Especially in the Steel City, where our Pens lost 343 man-games to various ailments last season (and a staggering 529 in 2013-14). So do trades.

It sure would be nice to have a talent the magnitude of Sprong ready to step in.

Don’t Keep

You hate to have a young kid sit. True, Sprong can learn a lot by rubbing elbows with stars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But he can’t hone his skills sitting on his fanny. Ultimately, he needs to play, and play a lot. In all situations. Even if it’s back in Charlottetown.

To keep or not to keep? Glad it’s not my decision.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
 
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4 Comments

  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    November 4, 2015 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Keep him ! Heck, we have such a great track record in developing young forward talent in the past 5 years, we experts at it. haha
    Why can we not take a chance on the kid who has some real talent? What is he going to learn in the QHL?The NHL road for him may get a little bumpy at first, but come playoff time,if they play him, this kid will surprise you.

    If it makes a veteran or two uneasy….to bad.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      November 4, 2015 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      Rick,
      Forgot to mention….
      Montreal did this with Guy La Fleur for the first 2 years of his career. He was basically a glorified water boy,but by being around older men,with NHL skills he learned how to become a true NHL star player. I think this kid has got the NHL intelligence already…He needs to be around that NHL environment everyday to grow his game mentally as well as physically.Next year this kid will play top 6 minutes,and if we get a injury come February or March to one of our forwards,he could help.
      This will not happen back in Charlottetown.

      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        November 4, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        Great insight, Jim.

        While I didn’t recall the circumstances, I do remember that Lafleur’s production lagged a bit his first couple of seasons. Nothing hideous–without looking it up I think he was in the 50-point range both years. But certainly not up to expectations.

        Then … BAM … he took flight and became the player everyone predicted he’d be.

        Hopefully, that’ll happen with Sprong, too … 🙂

  2. pens4ever's Gravatar pens4ever
    November 3, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I say send him back, if Coach Mike can’t give him top six mins.
    There is no point to hae him sit and watch except for 8- 10 mins on the fourth line a game.
    Let him go back and dominate and bring up some clown that makes $700,000 to play on the fourth line..


            

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