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Valentin Zykov on waivers: what does it mean for Daniel Sprong?

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Drawing conclusions from Carolina cutting one of their young skill forwards

NHL: Preseason-Carolina Hurricanes at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes put forward Valentin Zykov on waivers today.

Wait, you’re a Pittsburgh Penguins fan - so you care why, exactly?

Zykov has a bunch of a parallels to one Daniel Sprong, a player you no doubt know and care about and probably have passionate feelings towards.

Zykov is 23-years old, a bit younger than Sprong but certainly not a lot for a player who turns 22 later in this season.

Like Sprong, Zykov was a prolific scorer in the AHL last year, tallying 54 points (33 goals and 21 assists) in 63 games for the Charlotte Checkers. Sprong had 65 points (32g+33a) in 65 games for Wilkes-Barre.

Here is Corey Pronman from The Athletic’s beginning of season scouting report on Zykov.

Zykov was one of the better forwards in the AHL this past season, and was quite solid in his 10-game call-up for the Hurricanes. He scored 33 goals in the AHL, and I’d be shocked if more than three were outside the paint. He’s a strong, bulky winger who drives the net and has an edge to his game. Zykov isn’t all grit though as he possesses good puck skills and hockey sense and can make plays in tight or off the rush. His main weakness is skating and it remains to be seen whether he can skate at an NHL pace.

But, it didn’t really come together as Zykov got just 9:45 of ice time in 13 games this 2018-19 with NHL Carolina, had no goals, got 3 assists (a couple of them on the power play) and was relegated to healthy scratch territory as he never earned a role or any trust from his coach. Jeez, now does THAT sound like someone else you know?

At this point, Carolina was just ready to move on.

We’ll see what happens with Zykov, but overall this probably can’t bode well if you expect the Pens to get much of anything from Sprong. There isn’t much a market for unestablished young wingers. Most teams have a prospect (or better) like Zykov and Sprong as it is.

It still remains to be seen how the Sprong saga will eventually play out, but if not for injuries he’s been a healthy scratch most of the past two weeks. If the Zykov situation has taught us anything it might be that the waiver wire is a place that a team has to turn to if they can’t find a place in the lineup for a young forward.

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Now that said, should the Pens claim Zykov? There’s no guarantee he even makes it to them, being as lesser teams may want him and take him. Also Pittsburgh can’t seem to find a spot for an offensive winger in Sprong, why take another in Zykov?

That being put out there, no way Zykov couldn’t help more than Derek Grant or Garrett Wilson do. Not really sure if that will push the Pens’ mindset since they seem to like the size and dump’n’chase energy/grinding mentality that the new 4th line has been providing.

So don’t count on Zykov to Pittsburgh, but you definitely should be wondering if the waiver wire could be the next stop for Sprong.