Daniel Sprong may finally get his chance to be an offensive force in the NHL. Just not with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The 21-year-old winger was traded to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday for defenseman Marcus Pettersson, ending a brief career with the Penguins that was limited to 42 games over three seasons. Pittsburgh drafted Sprong in the second round, 46th overall, in 2015.
Sprong played 16 games with the Penguins this season, registering four assists and a minus-7 rating. Pettersson, 22, was in his second season playing with the Ducks. After appearing in 22 games as a rookie, Pettersson played 27 games with Anaheim this season, with six assists and a plus-4 rating. He averaged 14:01 in ice time.
Daniel Sprong tallied 261 points in 199 QMJHL games, and had 65 points in 63 AHL games, but didn't get much ice time with the Penguins. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Pettersson will be a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights this summer. Sprong is in the first year of a two-year deal that carries a $750,000 cap hit, and will have arbitration rights after the 2019-20 season.
Sprong has long been championed by Penguins fans who wanted to see a greater role for the forward. He was an offensive dynamo in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Charlottetown Islanders, scoring 261 points in 199 games, and he had 65 points in 63 games for the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season.
But Sprong was buried by the Penguins and coach Mike Sullivan during his time in Pittsburgh. Sprong only averaged 9 minutes and 40 seconds of ice time in his brief NHL career. He only cracked 10 minutes of ice time in two of his 16 games this season.
Sullivan would say it was situational, to a certain extent.
"We're trying to put guys on the ice that give us the best chance to have success in certain situations. And so, the way the schedule has unfolded to this point, there have been times where we have shortened the bench," Sullivan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in October. "It's not always our intent going into games but certainly performance has some influence on the decisions the coaches make."
Sprong averaged 1.66 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 over 24 games in the last two seasons. Sample size being what it is, that ranked him 10th among Penguins forwards.