Photo: Andreas Öhgren
The upcoming season is an important one for Capitals’ forward Daniel Sprong, as he enters the final year of his current deal in Washington. Last year he broke into the Capitals lineup and recorded 13 goals and 20 points in 43 games. But he’s been in this position before.
The forward scored 14 goals in 47 games for Anaheim during the 2018-19 season, after being traded to the club from Pittsburgh. But the following year he only played in eight games in the NHL. Then he was traded to Washington.
“I felt that the year before in Anaheim was kind of a bumpy one. I think I’ve said that many times. It’s the kind of year that I look back and kinda still don’t know what happened. Especially with the year before, where I scored 14 goals in half a season. I was on pace for 30. And then this year I really wanted to prove that I can be a full time NHL player. I think I did that. Now I gotta do it for 82 games next year,” said Sprong in an interview with HockeyNews.se.
Sprong, born in the Netherlands, saw an opportunity to go over to Europe and visit his family this summer. That’s the way he ended up in Stockholm.
“I decided to go back to Amsterdam, where I was born, see my grandparents, see some family. When I was in Europe already, I decided to go to Sweden for a bit and train with Andreas (Öhgren) in the gym and Daniel Broberg on the ice at Hammarbyhöjden’s IP. It’s been a really good month so far.”
This summer he’s trained with, among others, Alexander Holtz and Philip Broberg, who are preparing for their attempts to enter the NHL in a couple of months.
“The guys here have been together for a long time but everyone has been open and taken me in well here, and I try to contribute with my experiences from the NHL so that the guys will be ready for their camps. I saw Holtz and Broberg in JVM and it has been fun to get to know them here now.”
As for his current teammates in Washington, Sprong actually met Nicklas Backstrom when he was a kid.
“He’s a great guy. He’s a player that I watched when I was little. I’m really good friends with Jose Theodore’s brother, who’s really good family friends (with the Backstrom’s), so I got to meet him when I was little, Backstrom. And now to play with him, it’s pretty cool.”
The 24-year-old has also had a front row seat for Alexander Ovechkin’s hunt for Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. Ovechkin is up to 730 career goals and Gretzky’s record sits ahead at 894.
“I think he’s the greatest goal scorer of all time. He’s an unbelievable guy and an unbelievable player, and the way he shoots, I don’t think anyone can shoot like him. I think he’s going to break it. I really hope he does,” said Sprong.
Sprong and the Capitals open their 2021-22 campaign on Wednesday, October 13, when they host the New York Rangers at Capital One Arena.
Full interview with Daniel Sprong:
By Jon Sorensen