Pittsburgh will be without one of its brightest young prospects for nearly half of next season — on Friday, the club announced that Daniel Sprong will miss the next 7-8 months recovering from shoulder surgery.
The procedure came after Sprong, 19, was injured while practicing as a Black Ace during Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup run.
Prior to that, he’d embarked on a wild campaign.
Sprong was one of the biggest surprises to come out of Penguins training camp, making the team as an 18-year-old draftee (a second-round pick, no less).
His time in Pittsburgh was tumultuous, though. Sprong only played in 18 games and was a healthy scratch on a number of occasions — decisions that seemed to cause a rift between GM Jim Rutherford and former head coach Mike Johnston.
Rutherford eventually urged Johnston to play Sprong more. But after Johnston was fired and replaced by Mike Sullivan, the decision was made to return Sprong to junior.
It was a contentious decision at the time, given Pittsburgh had already burned the first year of his entry-level contract, though the move ultimately seemed to pay off. Sprong went back to QMJHL Charlottetown and was terrific, scoring 46 points in 33 regular season games, and 15 in 12 playoff outings.
He then made a seamless transition to the American League, racking up five goals and seven points in 10 Calder Cup playoff games for Wilkes-Barre.
Sprong’s sophomore campaign will be a difficult one. The recovery window suggests a January return at the earliest.