The Detroit Red Wings need to utilize Daniel Sprong more

Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports /

It is time the Detroit Red Wings consider rewarding forward Daniel Sprong with a promotion.

Daniel Sprong, 26, is quietly having a very productive first season with the Detroit Red Wings. The talented winger had been just one of many off-season additions by general manager Steve Yzerman in an attempt to overhaul a large portion of the roster with their sights set on a playoff berth for the first time in what seems like a lifetime to many Red Wings fans. Following a lengthy string of playoff appearances, the Detroit Red Wings have failed to qualify for the postseason for seven straight seasons.

Last season, Sprong tallied 21 goals and 46 points over 66 games with the Seattle Kraken despite averaging just over 11 minutes per game. That is some kind of production for a fourth-line player. Sprong did see plenty of time on Seattle’s power play, where he scored six goals and added eight assists. That is an incredible 3.7 points per 60-minute average, including two assists and 1.7 goals per 60 minutes. That is tremendous production, which also begs the question, why the hell didn’t the Kraken qualify Sprong last season when he was a restricted free agent? Odd, but Sprong is no stranger to moving. He entered the league as an 18-year-old and has played for five different organizations over the past eight seasons.

So far this season with the Red Wings, Sprong has totaled four goals and nine points over 15 games. He’s averaging just under 14 minutes with Detroit. Still, head coach Derek Lalonde needs to consider elevating Sprong in the lineup, allowing him to play with more skillful players to see how productive he can be when given more opportunities. Sprong has maintained a very reliable Corsi For Percentage of 52 and a Relative Corsi For Percentage of 5.5 during even strength situations. His 2.6 points per 60 minutes this season is also respectful.

It’s time the Detroit Red Wings give Daniel Sprong a bit more responsibility, a.k .a. ice-time.

On Saturday afternoon, before the Detroit Red Wings were wheels up and headed to Sweden, Sprong scored an important go-ahead goal late in the second period against the Columbus Blue Jackets, his fourth of the year. Jake Walman would eventually score the winner early in the third period, helping solidify Detroit’s 5-4 victory. Sprong had played on the fourth line for the Red Wings with veteran forward Robby Fabbri returning to the lineup. Fabbri is one of those players who will frustrate the hell out of you with his inability to remain healthy, but when he’s available, he’s proven to be productive. Fabbri scored again on Saturday for the Detroit Red Wings and has compiled two goals in three games this season. Fabbri skated on the third line alongside Joe Veleno and Christian Fischer.

The fourth line consisted of Michael Rasmussen between Sprong and Klim Kostin. I don’t hate the idea of balancing the bottom two lines by adding Fischer to the third group to provide some sandpaper rather than having him remain with Rasmussen and Kostin, but having Sprong play with Veleno and Fabbri does create a unit that nearly mirrors their second line of David Perron, J.T. Compher, and Andrew Copp.

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In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing Sprong skate with Compher and Copp in favor of Perron occasionally. I would prefer to see that group followed by a combination of Fabbri, Veleno, and Perron, which reunites Fischer with Rasmussen and Kostin on the fourth line, creating a heavy unit that is responsible defensively and has the potential to create havoc in the offensive zone at the very least wearing down the defense with a physical cycle. Moving Sprong up to the second unit will allow him more opportunities to be a go-to shooter on that line. He has proven valuable as a puck carrier and protector on the wall, similar to Perron, but with a lot more speed.