Red Wings Should Sign Daniel Sprong to a New Deal

The Hockey Writers

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is no stranger to the free agency process. He’s been quite active the last two summers as he continues to reshape the roster for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2015-16 season. This past July saw the additions of J.T. Compher, Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Holl, Alex Lyon, James Reimer, Christian Fischer, and Daniel Sprong. When you add Patrick Kane’s in-season signing, it becomes quite clear that the Red Wings’ legend is not afraid to take chances when it comes to improving this Original Six franchise.

Daniel Sprong Detroit Red Wings
Daniel Sprong, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Detroit is currently holding down the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but there are five teams within six points of that final playoff berth in a tightly-packed race that could come down to the final week of the season. These next few weeks should be eventful for this once proud franchise as the March 8th trade deadline looms. But make no mistake, the quality of play has vastly improved under Yzerman’s watch as the team ranks sixth in the league with 3.45 goals per game (GF/G). For a team that has struggled in recent seasons to find the back of the net, this has been a welcome surprise. Most of his recent signings have been short-term deals – except for Compher and Andrew Copp.

Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings
Steve Yzerman, General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Red Wings have one of the top-ranked prospect pools in all of hockey, but Yzerman has preached patience when it comes to drafting and developing their high-end draft picks. He doesn’t want to give out term with so many kids waiting in the – no pun intended – wings. But some of these short-term additions, most notably Sprong, have exceeded expectations and will likely force Yzerman to make some difficult decisions this upcoming offseason. The eight-year veteran has been everything and more for Detroit, registering 14 goals and 20 assists in 53 games while on pace to surpass his career-high in points (46). On a one-year deal at $2 million, Sprong has been an absolute steal for this contending team. The Red Wings should consider signing him to a multi-year deal once his current contract expires. At 26 years old, he fits the team’s timeline to compete and is the type of third-line grinder that brings valuable depth scoring to the table.

Related: Red Wings: 3 Biggest Needs Ahead of 2024 Trade Deadline

At 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds, Sprong is never going to be the biggest guy on the ice, but he plays much larger than his frame suggests. He has a knack for scoring and isn’t afraid to shoot the puck from anywhere on the ice. Last season, with the Seattle Krakken, he managed to put up 21 goals and 46 points in just 66 games while playing just 11:25 time on ice (TOI). He’s averaging 12:46 (TOI) with Detroit this season and continues to find the back of the net in a limited role. Many fans and analysts want a bigger sample size and would like to see what he can do in top-six role-playing with perhaps Kane and Compher. Ok, maybe that’s just me, but the numbers don’t lie. He’s been a great fit in the Motor City.

A Young Veteran

Detroit is now the fifth team that Sprong has laced them up for during his eight-year career, which does raise some flags for this writer. Why have so many teams given up on him? Or better yet, why has no one given him more minutes? I’ve never heard of any off-ice issues with Sprong, so there has to be some sort of explanation. If he flourishes in a secondary role, he may struggle in a top-six one, but I don’t think that’s the case, as you have to be talented to score 20 or more goals in this league. Is it opportunity? That’s where I’m heading as the Red Wings make a playoff push heading into March.

Daniel Sprong Andrew Copp Detroit Red Wings
Daniel Sprong and Andrew Copp celebrate a goal for the Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Detroit has struggled to keep their top lines together this season – through injuries and suspensions, head coach Derek Lalonde has been forced to juggle the lineup card more times than not. Adding Kane has only complicated the situation as the Red Wings try to find some consistency in their top six. Why not give Sprong a regular spot in that role and see what he does with it? I’d love to see a line of Kane, Compher and Sprong. He currently ranks third on the team in goals (14) and fourth in points (34). If that’s not a case for an extended audition, I don’t know what is. Let him eat.

Pen to Paper

The next few weeks are pivotal for the Red Wings as they continue to search for an identity leading up to the trade deadline. Yzerman will be forced to make some harsh decisions if the team struggles during that stretch. Teams will definitely be interested in Sprong for his solid scoring depth. With his low cap hit, he’d be a steal for another team looking to add to their top nine for the playoff stretch. Yzerman is hoping he’s already on that team.

Related: Moritz Seider’s New Red Wings Contract

What would a new contract look like for Sprong? At 26 years old, the Red Wings could look at a two-to-three-year deal for $2.5 million per, but that may not get it done as he approaches a career-high in numbers this season. As previously mentioned, Yzerman doesn’t like to give term, and he will be busy this summer as he looks to lock up Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider to long-term agreements. A decision on Kane’s future should be coming soon, and Michael Rasmussen will also be looking for a new deal as he becomes a restricted free agent this offseason. It’s a pivotal point in the season, and the next three weeks could be the determining factor for this up-and-coming team on whether they buy or sell. But Sprong has been a solid addition in Motown. Let’s hope he’s here to stay for a bit longer.

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