Penguins rookie right-winger Daniel Sprong made his NHL debut in the Pens 3-0 loss against the Dallas Stars on Thursday, and though he failed to make an immediate impact on the scoresheet, the talent and skating that made him a coveted pick were on full display.
“It was a great experience,” he said after the game. “As each period went on, I felt better and more comfortable. I was pretty nervous in the beginning, but I think I can learn from this game.”
Sprong, an 18-year old from Amsterdam, was the Penguins second-round pick in this year’s draft out of Charlottetown in the Quebec Major Junior hockey league. Hailed as a potential first-round talent, he slid to the Penguins because of concerns about his two-way play.
It was interesting, then, that he was slotted on the Pens fourth line with Bobby Farnham and Matt Cullen for his first NHL game. The young forward skated 8:59 of ice time, recording one shot and was even. He also earned some power play time, taking advantage of some work with the second unit.
“We had our chances, we just didn’t put them in,” Sprong said. “(Stars goalie Antti Niemi) played a great game. Our power play, we got some good momentum, we just didn’t capitalize.”
At the end of the day, a shutout loss isn’t what anyone had in mind for an NHL debut, but Sprong remains confident that he will be able to build off his performance.
“It’s not the result we were looking for as a team,” he said. “It’s just learning every day and bouncing back on Saturday.”
Photo credit: RDS