After GM’s urging, Pens to play rookie Sprong tonight


In the wake of the latest Pittsburgh drama — GM Jim Rutherford openly questioning head coach Mike Johnston’s use of rookie Daniel Sprong — it appears there’s some type of resolution on the horizon, as Sprong will play for the first time in eight games tonight in Colorado.

From the Post-Gazette:

Coach Mike Johnston said he hadn’t yet decided what line Sprong will play on. The Penguins juggled lines in practice Tuesday at Big Bear Ice Arena, a recreational rink on the outskirts of the city.

Sprong skated on a line with center Matt Cullen and winger Sergei Plotnikov.

Sprong, 18, has two goals in 14 games this year, while averaging 9:16 TOI per night. He’s been brought along very slowly by the Penguins, with some suggesting that’s been to his disadvantage — a prolific scorer in junior, Sprong seems to be the type that would thrive playing alongside more offensively-gifted players.

As for the Johnston-Rutherford rift, it’s hard to say it had any impact on Sprong playing tonight.

With yesterday’s news that Pascal Dupuis won’t play again due to blood clots, a spot opened up at forward and Sprong was the only extra forward on Pittsburgh’s current four-game road swing.