Daniel Sprong made the NHL out of his first training camp at 18-years-old in large part because of his unteachable scoring touch. He demonstrated those skills for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season during the Calder Cup Playoffs. He’s one of the most promising prospects in the Penguins pipeline, and he’s really picked up his game lately after starting the season on the shelf with a shoulder injury.
Unfortunately for the Dutch phenom, summer shoulder surgery prevented him from making a run at Pittsburgh’s roster at the start of the year. His age prevents him from playing in the AHL, so he’s had to settle for tormenting the junior ranks right now. Given his talent level, he should be dominating the Québec Major Junior Hockey League, and he’s done exactly that after getting his legs underneath him in the first few weekends of his return.
In 16 games this season with the Charlottetown Islanders, Sprong has 25 points (13G-12A). It’s been his last several games that he’s really taken off, though. In his last six contests, he’s racked up – wait for it- nine goals and seven assists for 16 POINTS.
Unsurprisingly, Sprong was just named the QMJHL’s first star of the week following his biggest weekend yet. On Saturday, Sprong had the first hat trick of his junior career (on just three shots) as part of a four point outing. This came on the heels of a two-goal night on Friday during which he pulled off this sparkling move.
And before you dismiss that high reel tally because it came against junior competition, consider Sprong dangled around Jared McIsaac, the second overall pick from this past QMJHL Entry Draft and a defenseman considered to be a favorite to go in the top 10 of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Originally, we had our prospect round-up scheduled to come out next week, but with Sprong producing at this rate and scoring goals like the one he did against Halifax, we just couldn’t resist talking about it.
• Sam Lafferty has cooled off a little bit from his torrid pace in December, which is understandable, but he still struck for goals in both of Brown University’s games this past weekend. Pittsburgh’s fourth round selection (114th overall) in 2014 has six points (4G-2A) in his last six games and leads the Bears with 30 points on the season.
• Troy Josephs scored again for the Clarkson University Golden Knights on Saturday, extending his team-lead to 11 goals this season.
• Jeff Taylor notched two assists on Saturday in Union College’s 8-3 trouncing of Dartmouth. Taylor has 25 points (8G-17A) in 30 games this season, which tops all defensemen for the ECAC-leading Dutchmen.
• Goaltender Filip Gustavsson didn’t appear in either of Luleå’s games this past weekend, but his season in the Swedish Hockey League has been a strong one nonetheless. He has a .917 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average, which are both good enough for sixth and fifth-best among SHL rookies. The Penguins’ first pick this past summer (second round, 55th overall) has clearly graduated to the pros full-time after dominating in three games at the Swedish junior level this season (.935 sv%, 1.96 GAA).