Daniel Sprong

Daniel Sprong making most of opportunity with Anaheim Ducks

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A breakup between Daniel Sprong and the Pittsburgh Penguins seemed inevitable. He clearly had the ability, but could not find a regular spot in Mike Sullivan’s lineup, hence the Dec. 3 trade to the Anaheim Ducks.

Since moving west, the 21-year-old Sprong has enjoyed his time on the left coast. In five games with the Ducks he’s scored three times — with all three goals being pretty meaningful ones. Compare that to the nine points he compiled in 42 career games with the Penguins over parts of three seasons.

His first goal came on his first shot in his first game with Anaheim on a tough angle against Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks.

On Saturday night, he scored both goals, including the overtime winner, during 2-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

During his time in the AHL, Sprong showed he could score, but it never translated during his chances in Pittsburgh. He never played more than 18 games in a season during his three years there and averaged a total of only 9:40 of ice time a game. Now that he’s getting a bit of a bigger opportunity with the Ducks and playing an average of 14:50 a night, it’s clicking for him on a line with Adam Henrique and Nick Ritchie.

“The coaching staff and management gave me an opportunity to play the role I think I can play,” said Sprong after the OT win against Columbus. “Playing with Rico and Ritchie has really been helping me out. Right now I’m getting the looks and putting pucks on net. I’m excited to be here.”

He’s certainly firing the puck more now. Through five games he already has 15 shots on net. He had 61 shots in those 42 games with the Penguins.

“We’re going to try to put him in situations where he can use his shot,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. “Put him with a grouping of offensive players. I don’t think it would be fair to the player to put him into a fourth-line role when he’s provided offense in every other level.”

Sprong will get a chance to show the Penguins what they’re missing as the Ducks visit Pittsburgh Monday night. Anaheim has won 10 of their last 12 games and five straight games away from Honda Center. They’ve been a resilient bunch as shown in the fact that they’ve either been tied or trailing in the third period of each of their last nine victories.

It will certainly be a meaningful one for Sprong.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Trades: Penguins deal Sprong to Ducks; Leafs move Leivo

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Monday turned out to be a busy day on the NHL trade market with a pair of one-for-one swaps taking place.

Let’s get to the details.

Penguins give up on Daniel Sprong

The writing has been on the wall for a while now that Daniel Sprong was never going to fit in with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has not developed as the team hoped he would, he never gained the trust of the current coaching staff, and he hasn’t really performed when he has been on the ice.

On Monday, the Penguins finally traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for 22-year-old defenseman Marcus Pettersson.

It’s the classic “take our prospect that hasn’t panned out in exchange for your prospect that hasn’t panned out and let’s hope it works” trade.

There is no doubt Sprong has talent, but it has yet to translate to the NHL level.

Even if you want to argue that he hasn’t been given enough of an opportunity, he hasn’t really done much to convince anyone he has deserved more of a look. In 42 career games he has just nine points (four goals, five assists) and has never developed his game away from the puck. The Penguins spent the offseason talking about how he was going to be a part of this year’s team, and they gave him a ton of playing time in training camp and the preseason. But after a dreadful preseason performance he was back to being the odd-man out on a regular basis, and when he did get in the lineup he was consistently buried on the fourth line.

He never really did anything to play his way out of it.

Pettersson will add some defensive depth to an organization that badly needs it, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to crack the lineup or make any sort of an impact. The Penguins have tried to take on a lot of reclamation projects on defense over the years with very mixed results. He is also waiver exempt (unlike Sprong) so he could be sent to the American Hockey League without having to pass through the waiver wire.

Maple Leafs make room for William Nylander, trade Josh Leivo

With William Nylander finally back in the mix for the Toronto Maple Leafs on a six-year contract, they had to make some room for him on the roster.

That move was to trade forward Josh Leivo to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Michael Carcone.

Leivo appeared in all 27 games this season for the Maple Leafs, scoring four goals to go with two assists. After being selected by the team in the third-round of the 2011 draft he has mostly been a depth player over the past six years. Before this season he had never played more than 16 games at the NHL level. He might get more of an opportunity on a rebuilding Vancouver team that is short on depth.

The 22-year-old Carrone has spent the past three seasons playing for the Canucks’ AHL team in Utica. He has six goals and 11 assists in 20 games this season.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.