Nation Network Prospect Profiles: #18 Daniel Sprong

With the Travis Konecny profile at 20, we begin to move away from the guys that could go anywhere from the late first round to the early third round, and into the next “tier” of players. We’re starting to get in to the range of guys we’re all pretty big fans of, and guys that have been on our radars for a couple of seasons.

Daniel Sprong was one of the guys that distinguished himself as a top prospect in the class of 2015 last season, and has continued to grow into a player that could one day score 30 goals in the NHL. Let’s take a look after the jump.

Bio:

  • Age: 17.50 years old at start of season. Born March 17, 1997
  • Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Frame: 6’0, 183 lbs
  • Position: RW
  • Draft Year Team: Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
  • Accomplishments: 2014 QMJHL All-Rookie Team, 2015 CHL Top Prospects Game Participant

Stats:

GP ES G ES A1 ES A2 ES Pts ES Pts/GP ES GF% ES GF% Rel TmG% TmPts% AA Pts/GP EA Pts/GP Adj Pts/GP
68 22 19 5 46 0.68 N/A N/A 13.7% 39.3% 1.16 1.39 1.25
  • TmG% = Percentage of team goals a player scored in that player’s games played
  • TmPts% = Percentage of team goals a player registered points on in that player’s games played
  • AA Pts/GP = Age adjusted points per game
  • EA Pts/GP = Era and league adjusted points per game
  • Adj Pts/GP = Age, era, and league adjusted points per game
PCS% 2014 PCS Pts/82 2014 PCS% 2015 PCS Pts/82 2015
32.9% 51.6 32.0% 43.2
PCS Most NHL GP PCS Highest Pts/GP
Steve Yzerman Steve Yzerman
Luc Robitaille Michel Goulet
Guy Carbonneau Luc Robitaille

Scouts:

Draft rank:

NHL CSS ISS FutureConsiderations HockeyProspect Pronman McKeen’s McKenzie Button
20 (NA) 26 18 37 17 N/A 33 38

From Curtis Joe, EliteProspects:

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.

From Future Considerations:

A strong offensive player…he’s quick and extremely involved in every play…an explosive player who can create chances out of nothing…strong skater and very slick hands…a wicked shot and can snipe top shelf…not easily pushed around, but still does need to add strength to truly dominate…he’s adaptable and able to find ways to make an impact in every game…defense needs to come along and he isn’t very physical, but his offensive skill set will make him a game breaker at the pro level…at times, he shows some real initiative in his own zone though, blocking shots and breaking up plays…works his butt off both on and off the ice to improve his game.

From Craig Button, TSN:

Arguably one of the most skilled players in the draft. Sprong possesses high end skating, puck skills, shot and offensive weaponry.  Can do so much individually but developing his game to work more in unison with his line mates and trusting the power of the team can make his skill highly productive at the NHL level.

Our Take:

If you’re looking for pure, unfiltered offensive upside in the mid-first round, look no further than the real Dutch Gretzky (sorry, Dale Weise): Charlottetown’s Daniel Sprong.

Like Travis Konecny (who we profiled earlier today), Sprong was an elite scorer in his age group last season before being slowed by a tough start to 2014-15. Unlike Konecny, Sprong’s issues didn’t persist for too long and he just kept getting better and better and better as 2015 rolled along. By the end of the season, Sprong was 12th in the QMJHL in total goals (4th among draft eligibles), 14th in points (5th among draft eligibles) and finished the season on a tear, scoring 21 points in his final 9 games.

While not as prolific as big Russian winger Evgeni Svechnikov, Sprong did a ton of damage at even strength while not getting much help from his teammates. Sprong tallied 21 of his 39 goals at ES, and picked up 19 primary assists compared to a paltry 5 secondary assists. When Sprong’s team was generating offense, there was a good chance Sprong was directly involved.

Aside from the Hall-of-Fame guys in Sprong’s PCS cohort outlined above, there’s also a variety of very, very high quality players too. Logan Couture, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Michael Peca are Sprong’s three absolute closest comparable players per PCS, but talented wingers like Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Toffoli, Simon Gagne, Bobby Ryan, and J-P Dumont also make appearances, along with a whole host of other very, very good players like Mike Richards, Michael Ryder, Adam Graves, Peter Zezel, Brandon Dubinsky, Adam Deadmarsh, Scott Hartnell, and Barry Pederson. Statistically, Sprong is as good a bet as you can make in the mid-first round, or even potentially earlier.

As you would expect from a guy who’s been one of the most impressive offensive players in the 1997-born draft class for a few seasons now, Sprong possesses a dynamic and explosive set of tools that he uses to push the pace of the game and make defenders uncomfortable. His shot may be nearing elite as he can pick corners from most anywhere below the top of the faceoff circles, and his patience around the net is also fantastic.

Sprong is also a pretty fast skater with a smooth stride and very good acceleration. Coupled with fast hands and a universally-praised tireless work ethic, he’s a danger to score not only off the rush, but to burst into space in the offensive zone too. His defense isn’t close to poor though it could use some polish, but most of his growth could come from just growing up and getting stronger. Sprong isn’t afraid to engage physically and will compete with anyone, but adding strength to his skill and work ethic will make him more effective in more areas of the ice – a pretty scary thought for opposing defenders. 

While a very high-end middle-6 forward may be a more realistic career expectation, Sprong definitely has first-line upside. If a team really likes him, it wouldn’t at all be a stretch to grab Sprong closer to the top-10 draft picks. However, if Bob McKenzie’s industry rankings prove accurate, Sprong could also slide to the early second round, where he’d be an absolute steal.

  • Fortitude00

    Sprong is really interesting because he is the single best chance at getting a genuine 1st line talent outside of the ~top-18 consensus there seems to be in this draft.

    But he typically shows up on people’s ‘do not draft list’. Interesting that your profile glosses over these perceived (whether they are real or not I do not know) issues. Namely that his defence is typically described as suspect, in that he tends to float back and camp waiting for a breakout pass rather than engaging. And also that his interviews seem to be universally horrific. Those two points combined tend to ring the ‘selfish, entitled’ alarm bells.

    But what does that really matter? Most comparisons iv’e read tend to compare him to Shinkaruk or Ho-Sang. In that these are highly skilled guys who tend to rub people the wrong way and have a ‘major flaw’ (more size in the others case but being a bit of a floater in Sprong’s case). I tend to think the interview issues are overblown. These kids are just that, kids, who have been thrust into an extremely competitive environment at a young age.

    The question around Sprong for me is will he go the Shinkaruk route, in working hard on his deficiencies (so far at least), or will he go the Jensen route, in coasting and not working as hard as he could. However, at pick 23, his numbers blow Jensen’s out of the water, and I think that he could be a risk worth taking.

    • Fortitude00

      Guys that fall to the 20’s are going to have issues that need to be sorted out through maturation.
      Sprong has big time skating and offensive talent. He would be on my list after the D list has been exhausted.

  • orcasfan

    I would love to see JB take a flyer on Sprong if he was still available at #23. He could be the next Patrick Kane. But, I expect the Canucks will go for a “safer” pick like Harkins. I suspect that we will see a few available at 23 that will give JB & Co pause. Hopefully, when he goes for the supposed BPA, they consider someone like Sprong, given his potential as an elite scorer!

  • orcasfan

    This just in – Edmonton Oilers: NHL Team Reportedly Fires Top Amateur Scouts according to news.

    This also just in. Canucks to keep their scouting staff, Larry, Curly and Moe.

  • orcasfan

    all of the numbers listed above paint an uplifting picture for sprong’s future and i have been impressed in limited viewings, but the one red flag with sprong is he has been in the bottom 3 in +/- on charlottetown each of the last two seasons (last this season, 3rd last in 13-14). you can call +/- bush-league all you want–and it is, in a lot of ways–but it also is the closest proxy for possession that we have for the junior level. maybe it would convince the analytics crew more if i called it ‘ES GF% REL.’ well it’s the same thing. maybe he was unlucky. but it certainly is worth mentioning and investigating. maybe his defensive play is bad.

  • orcasfan

    Would be so, so great to draft a guy like this, even if it’s a huge risk (in mgmt’s eyes). We simply don’t have a player like this in the stable.

    Sadly, I think he’ll fall into the Scherbak kind of group where he’s never even seriously considered as a viable option by Benning. Really hope that’s not the case.. that’s my cynical side coming through. I would still be pleased to draft Harkins, but a little variety would be welcome.