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Before the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 NHL season began, when one envisioned a full, healthy lineup for the Washington Capitals, it’s likely that 2019-20 trade acquisition Daniel Sprong wasn’t among the names that would be seeing a good chunk of ice time for first-year Head Coach Peter Laviolette. However, due to a combination of factors (including the coronavirus, injuries, and a suspension among others), the 24-year old former second-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins has become a highlight for a Capitals team looking to make another Stanley Cup run.
Acquired by the Caps in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Christian Djoos, the 46th overall pick in 2015 has proven to be a reliably hard-working and offrensively productive player when given a spot in the lineup, in which he has played 26 times this season. The Amsterdam, Netherlands native has scored seven goals and recorded five assists, with a plus-9 rating.
Spronged back in it! pic.twitter.com/yW2i4d7l5B
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 1, 2021
Sprong’s career season at the NHL level came during the 2018-19 season, which he split between the Penguins and Ducks, recording 14 goals, nine assists, and 23 points in 63 Games Played. Sprong is currently on pace for 12 goals and nine assists over the course of the rest of the season in 2020-21. While Sprong has a 46.1% Corsi For Percentage, he has been on the ice for 20 Goals For at Even-Strength to just 11 Goals Against, and the Capitals’ 17.5 Shooting Percentage at Even-Strength while Sprong is one the ice ranks first among Capitals skaters with at least 20 Games Played this season; additionally, his 20.6 Shooting Percentage is second among Capitals skaters this season.
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While Sprong was initially expected to see only occasional playing time in the Caps’ lineup, circumstances beyond his control have given him the opportunity to showcase his potential offensively, as well as a work ethic that has enabled him to remain in the lineup even upon the return of teammates. Signed to a two-year deal during the offseason, Sprong will likely have an opportunity for a bigger role next season, albeit a season still very far away. On a Capitals team that is the NHL’s oldest, Sprong’s youth gives him room to improve his game and role in the lineup, and if his 26 games this season are any indication, it could mean nothing but good things for the Capitals.
By Michael Fleetwood
Stats via Hockey-Reference