Daniel Sprong. (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
After making the Penguins roster during training camp this past season, Daniel Sprong had a chance to become a regular during the 2016-17 campaign. However, the 19-year-old winger will miss at least half of the upcoming season following shoulder surgery.
The most significant injury — and the one with the longest recovery time — the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to deal with after the post-season appears to be one to a player who didn’t even see the ice in the Stanley Cup final.
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Daniel Sprong, who played 18 games with the Penguins this past season, will be out 7-8 months following off-season surgery on his right shoulder. The 19-year-old started the season with the Penguins and earned his way onto the roster out of training camp, but after re-joining the team following his time with the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders the rookie fell injured during practice as one of the Penguins’ ‘Black Aces’ in the post-season.
The 7-8 month timeline for return means it’s unlikely Sprong finds his way onto the NHL roster before the second half of the 2016-17 season and means he could be out until after the all-star break.
Sprong's injury doesn’t just cost him a potential half-season of action, though. It also leaves the Penguins without one of their most talented prospects. Sprong impressed in training camp this past season, and the Netherlands native unexpectedly made the Penguins’ roster after being selected with the 46th pick in the 2015 draft.
Even after Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup victory this past season, there aren’t many players set to leave the Penguins during the off-season due to salary cap restraints. However, if Pittsburgh was in need of an additional forward, Sprong very likely would have fit right into the Penguins’ up-tempo play style. One of the winger’s best assets is his speed, and his scoring ability would have been a plus for the bottom-six. And while he still may factor into Pittsburgh’s plans for the 2016-17 campaign, he won’t see the ice for quite a while.
In 168 games with the Charlottetown over the past three seasons, Sprong has notched 85 goals and 202 points, and he managed two goals in 18 games with the Penguins. However, during his time in Pittsburgh, Sprong averaged less than nine minutes of ice time while still burning a year of his entry-level contract.