Sprong was part of general manager Steve Yzerman’s free agent haul, which also included forwards J.T. Compher and Christian Fischer — signings that came a week before Yzerman swung a deal for Alex DeBrincat and a week after Klim Kostin was added in a trade during the draft. That projects to give the Wings the depth to form four solid lines, which is what helped Sprong record a career-high 21 goals last season with the Seattle Kraken.
“If you look at our team last year in Seattle, we had four lines that can play,” Sprong said in early July. “The way I played last year on the power play and scoring five-on-five, I think that’s something I excelled at, and the defensive side as well, and I am excited to bring that to Detroit.”
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Sprong, 26, posted 46 points in 66 games in 2022-23; over hist previous seasons, with Seattle and the Washington Capitals, his goal output was in the mid-teens. Of the 22 players who scored either 20 or 21 goals last season, Sprong was the only one to average less than 12 minutes per game. Even so, the Kraken did not give Sprong a qualifying offer, and now he is eyeing an opportunity with the Wings.
“I think it will be a good fit for both sides,” Sprong said. “I thought it would be a good fit to be there and help with the scoring and grow with the guys there and be part of the organization. Detroit was only 12 points out of the playoffs, so you’re talking about maybe a six-or-seven game swing. You’re not far out.”
Sprong, who shoots right, is an option to play the left flank on one of the power-play units, where his quick release should add a scoring threat. He netted six power-play goals last season among 14 power-play points.
“I can get off my one-timer pretty well, so I’m hoping I can bring an impact on the power play,” Sprong said.
Sprong (6 feet, 202 pounds) has a neat backstory: He was born in Amsterdam, making him one of three Dutchmen to have played in the NHL, and the only one since the mid-1980s. Sprong’s family moved to Montreal when he was seven, and that’s where he spends the majority of his time in the offseason. He knows Joe Veleno from growing up in the same area, and David Perron and Olli Määttä from overlapping with the Pittsburgh Penguins. For all the time Sprong has spent in North America, though, he retains an appetite for European soccer, and is relishing countryman Max Verstappen’s dominant Formula One season.
“I stilll have the Dutch roots in me, that’s for sure,” Sprong said.
Sprong may be growing new roots in Detroit. His contract is only for one year, at $2 million. There’s no risk in that for the Wings, but if Sprong can build on thriving in a four-line environment, there could be a solid reward.