Sprong, 6'0, 183 pounds, is an interesting story. He was born in the Netherlands and lived their until age 7, when his family moved to Canada. Sprong seems like a pretty good value pick at #46. He was ranked:
- #20th North American skater by CSB,
- TSN's consensus of scouts had him #33 overall
- McKeens had him #16 overall
- Sportsnet had him #21 overall
- ESPN's Corey Pronmann ($): 17th overall
- Craig Button: 38th
That looks like a good find for the Penguins at this point in the draft, since every service I could find had Sprong ranked higher than #46.
Why did Sprong fall to the mid 2nd round? Die by the Blade listed some weaknesses:
So what's wrong with him is the real question, when he's sitting towards the end of the first round in most rankings and mock drafts. He's got some size, but he's not physical. His defensive abilities are lacking. He's got the raw talent, but started off this season slow and there are worries about his ability to deal with pressure.
Daniel Sprong (Charlottetown, QMJHL) – His combination of skills/skating ability/goal scoring would ordinarily make him a 1st round talent. However, his compete level when he doesn’t have the puck on his stick is frequently non-existent.
In the SB Nation mock draft, Sprong went #24 overall, with PPP saying:
What really distinguishes him on the ice are two uncommon characteristics in young players. The first, Sprong's innocent creativity and imagination with the puck, allows him to create plays in situations where other players would bail on the play.
The second, his bullish, aggressive mentality as a skater, presents an angry-like stride and pushes a relentless tempo up-ice.
Sprong had an impressive 17 year old season in the Q, with PPP summing it up:
If the Leafs are looking for a player who can create for himself and his teammates offensively, there are few better in the CHL than Sprong.
Among 17-year-old QMJHL players this season, Sprong finished first in the percentage of his teams goals that he created, ahead of unquestioned top prospects Timo Meier, Evgeny Svechnikov and Anthony Beauvillier. He also finished second in team points percentage behind only Meier.
Here's some more scouting reports on Sprong:
Director of NHL Central Scouting, Dan Marr:
"He has blazing speed, a great shot, and the puck skills and hockey sense to be an effective playmaker."
Daniel Sprong is a truly dynamic player: fantastic skating abilities, can handle the puck like he's threading a needle, and an elite-level capability to pass the puck. Sprong is one of those players who can create big plays even if it's in small spaces. He has a wicked wrist-shot, but I don't value him for his goal scoring nearly as much as I do for his ability to see the play, and pass the puck. Sprong possesses many of those attributes that you simply cannot teach, like elite hockey senses, and offensive instinct.
While he's not a strong two-way player, he has been seen breaking up plays in his own zone. He's sort of the player who will trot around waiting for a stretch-pass, or a breakout.
I've seen him be the best player on the ice, showing hands that rivaled those of Winnipeg first-rounder Nikolaj Ehlers. He's been working on his defensive game, but he's a pure offensive weapon. He's an excellent skater with loads of creativity. He should be a late first round pick, but his defensive warts may see him slip to early in the second round
A prolific scoring winger who possesses an elite-level skillset: has dynamic skating ability, is a creative passer, and has incredible puckhandling ability. While he is offensively dominant, he is also defensively responsible. A very hard working player who strives to improve all aspects of his game. Absolutely electric.
Pensburgh Wrap up
The Pittsburgh Penguins badly need young skilled wingers.Daniel Sprong is just that, so the fit seems great. So far in Jim Rutherford's brief Penguin stint, it's encouraging that his high picks have been skilled wingers with Kasperi Kapanen last year in the first round, and now Sprong in the 2nd this year.
Although his size isn't great, and knocks about inconsistency are troubling, neither are deal-breakers. Sprong was 17 years old until March, he should show a lot of improvement, and being so young, his game should naturally grow and improve over the years.
This is a potential home run pick that is a good value for where in the draft he was taken. It's a bold pick, but the team needs this type of young skill in the organization. Almost every pick looks like a winner on draft day, and this one is no different.