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Daniel Sprong Is Ready For Prime Time

October 3, 2015, 8:43 AM ET [144 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. That appears to be the case with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the fact that Daniel Sprong slid down the draft board into the second round. Talent-wise there was no reason for that to happen.

Every single time Daniel Sprong has taken the ice this preseason the puck has followed him around regardless of who his linemates have been. His hands are already above average for an NHL player and he has some speed to burn. The combination of those two skills cannot be taught. You either have it or you don’t.

The perceived weaknesses of Sprong are on the defensive side of the puck. A lot of times those concerns are overblown especially when you are talking about the net gain that a player like Sprong can bring to the lineup. Craig Adams was “defensively sound” but the guy couldn’t generate a lick of offense. Why is that considered OK for fourth line duty but a player who generates a ton and isn’t a defensive guru punished? One of those skill sets can get better and one of them can’t. Anything Daniel Sprong lacks at this point in time can be improved. The things he excels at other players can’t just get better at. The NHL is a speed league now and if you have it you can survive. If you have speed and are able to combine it with skilled hands and the ability to create time and space you can thrive. Throughout the preseason Daniel Sprong has shown that he can thrive.

The perception of what an NHL fourth line could be and should be has been skewed for a very long time. For too long teams have settled for crash and bangers when they should have been searching for more scorers, even if they have certain flaws.

My overall point is that I am already leaning towards Sprong making his way past the nine game tryout that he has clearly earned. He will not suffer in his development playing around 12 minutes a night on the fourth line and second power play. Perhaps he would if he was with Zach Sill and Tanner Glass but that just isn’t going to be the case. After Eric Fehr gets back into the lineup all bottom six candidate on the Pittsburgh Penguins have track records of being solid NHL players or in the case of Beau Bennett a skilled player who hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

If Brandon Saad is brought up in conversation Penguins fans are likely to let out a collective groan and mention the fact that Pittsburgh passed up the hometown boy in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Pittsburgh native has blossomed into a very good winger who has already won two Stanley Cup Championships. This all happened while Pittsburgh continued to struggle with quality players at the forward position in their own prospect ranks.

A few years later Pittsburgh has their ‘Brandon Saad’. They have a player who for unknown reasons fell into the second round of the draft and will be an important part of Pittsburgh’s top six for years to come.

There is the saying when life hands you a lemon make some lemonade, but in this case the Pittsburgh Penguins were given the glass of lemonade right at the start, drink it.

Thanks for reading!
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