Welcome to our fourth player profile for the 2015 Draft. If you missed our third profile, you can check it out by clicking here. There will be several of these coming in the near future and leading up to the draft. Each profile will document a 2015-draft eligible player that the Panthers could pick based on their draft position, which we now know to be the 11th pick.
There have only been two Dutch-born NHL players (Ed Kea and Ed Beers), and Daniel Sprong is making a strong case to be the third. Read on for our profile of this deceptively skillful winger.
Sprong was born in the Netherlands, but moved to Quebec at a young age to play hockey. The 6’0”, 192lb right has made a huge impact with the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL. He scored 39 goals, 49 assists and 88 points in his sophomore season and was his team’s leading scorer in Charlottetown’s 2015 playoff run, which ended after a four game sweep by the Quebec Remparts, with 11 points in 10 games. Last year, Sprong performed at a point-per-game pace with 68 points in 67 games played. The NHL’s Central Scouting Service’s final draft prospect rankings place Daniel Sprong at 20thoverall. With the Florida Panthers retaining their 11th overall pick in the first round, it is possible that the Panthers may pick up this right-handed, high scoring winger from Charlottetown, who has been dubbed “The Flying Dutchman”. Daniel Sprong broke a franchise record for most points scored by a rookie in his first year with the Islanders. In his sophomore year, he led his team offensively. Going into the draft, any team looking for a high scoring, right handed right winger should be looking closely at Sprong.
The most noticeable thing about Daniel Sprong is his ability to read the ice around him. Whenever he touches the puck, he finds the best places to move the puck, and when he does, he or someone he passes the puck to scores. Sprong is a sniper. He has skilled hands that can move the puck around defenders like a knife through butter, and his speed, as well as his skating ability allow him to burst out of the defensive zone and move around the ice in order to make a play. His agility and ability to change directions on a dime make him very hard to defend. He has an extremely quick release that is also very powerful. He prefers a quick wrist shot, and has such accuracy with the puck that he can frequently find the top corners of the net and score. Sprong’s got the kind of puck skills that make fans’ jaws drop. He can dance around defenders with little to no difficulty, and he loves to challenge defenders one on one, easily getting around them with one of his many nifty moves.
Defensively, Sprong is average. Instead of pushing himself into the play and trying to force the puck to the point, he tends to stick to the outside and wait for the puck to come to him. This has drawn some criticism, and it is something Sprong will need to work on if he wants to succeed in the NHL. Physically, he doesn’t really engage other players. He’s very good at escaping hits, and his physical game will need to improve if he expects to stand up to a NHL defenseman. He has great vision in the offensive end; finding out how to get the puck and put it in the net is a specialty of his. However, in the defensive zone, Sprong often gets caught not doing much. He’s the kind of player that won’t display maximum effort until the puck is in the offensive zone. Sprong will have to work on this before going to the NHL, because accountability is something NHL teams pride themselves on, and if Sprong is going to play on an NHL team, he needs to be useful in all three zones.
Come draft day, Daniel Sprong will go to a team that’s looking for an exciting, high scoring winger. The Panthers are definitely one of those teams. If Sprong can learn how to play a more physical game, and ramp up his competitiveness level, then he will thrive in the NHL. It might take some time in the AHL to mold him into a player that fits within our systems, but the Panthers need wingers who can put the puck in the net, and Daniel Sprong of the Charlottetown Islanders could be that winger.