The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed their top pick from the 2015 NHL draft, second-round selection Daniel Sprong, to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Sprong, 18, fell to the Penguins with the 46th overall selection, despite being rated as a first-round talent by many prognosticators. The 6-foot tall, 180 pound right-winger recently participated in the Penguins prospect development camp at Consol Energy Center in July and was named to roster for the team’s rookie tournament squad that will play in Hamilton, Ontario in early September. He will also participate in the team’s main training camp later that month.
Sprong isn’t expected to seriously challenge for NHL playing time in 2015-16, and will likely return to his junior team, the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL. As long as Sprong plays fewer than 10 NHL games, his contract will slide, meaning that his three-year tenure will be pushed back until he turns pro.
He’s expected to again be an offensive leader for the Islanders. In 2014-15, he led the squad in all three major offensive categories with 39 goals, 49 assists and 88 points. One of the things he’ll be working to improve this season – and one of the reasons he fell so far in the draft – is his defensive play. He was a team-worst minus-23 for Charlottetown a season ago.
Pittsburgh Sporting News named Sprong the team’s top prospect earlier this month.
Sprong is a native of Amsterdam, where his father was a player, but his family moved to Montreal, Quebec when he was young. Before his time in Charlottetown, Sprong played bantam hockey for the Wilkes-Barre Knights.
By signing Sprong the Penguins have now signed two of their 2015 draft picks. Fifth-round pick Dominik Simon inked his entry-level deal while at development camp in July. The team’s other two selections, sixth-rounder Frederik Tiffels and seventh-rounder Nikita Pavlychev, are attending college and not able to sign until they turn pro.
Sprong and the rest of the Penguins prospects will begin their three-game rookie tournament on Friday, September 11 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Photo credit: QMJHL