It is safe to say the Seattle Kraken have had an unexpected start through the first 25 games of the 2022-23 season. They are one of the NHL’s hottest teams with 15 wins and have one of the league’s top offences. While most of the attention is on players like Matty Beniers, André Burakovsky and Jordan Eberle, one player that is often forgotten but having a strong campaign is Daniel Sprong. Despite playing mostly on the fourth line, he has exceeded expectations so far and is on pace to break his previous career highs in goals and points.
Sprong the Power Play Specialist
Where Sprong has been at his best is on the power play. Averaging just over two minutes per game on the second unit, he has two goals and six points so far this season. He has also generated 10 shots on goal, which ties Bjorkstrand for fourth on the team. What might be most impressive, though, is that he has only played 18 games yet is among the team leaders who have played close to, if not all, 25 games this season.
While Sprong has gotten opportunities on the power play in the past, he has had trouble producing. In 211 minutes of career power-play ice time, he had just five goals and eight points. The biggest difference between the past and now is he’s shooting the puck. As mentioned, he is up to 10 shots on goal this season, while through his first 202 games before this year, he only managed 46 power-play shots. He is also creating more scoring chances through his playmaking, as his four assists this year are more than he’s had combined throughout his career. Overall, he has given the Kraken another weapon on their power play and has been a key contributor to their hot start to the season.
Sprong’s Strong Offensive Start
It isn’t just the power play where Sprong is making a difference, but also at even strength. He currently has eight points at even strength, with all of them being primary points (goal or first assists). That is tied with Alex Wennberg despite playing over 200 minutes less than him. Even with a rotating group of linemates, he is able to produce and give the Kraken something that every team needs in depth scoring.
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Overall, Sprong has 14 points this season, which is impressive on its own, but the fact that 13 of his points are primary points shows just how valuable he has been to Seattle’s offence. It shows he is engaged in the play and helping to drive the offence rather than being a passenger and watching the play. He has found another gear this season and should be a crucial part of the Kraken if they plan on making a long playoff run.
Sprong’s Strong Defensive Play
Sprong has shown he can be responsible defensively at even strength this season too. He has created more turnovers than giveaways, has blocked three shots and has thrown nine hits. The most important number, however, is that when on the ice, his line has outscored the opposition 11 to three.
Overall, Sprong’s play in the defensive zone is exactly at the level where a team would want a fourth-liner to be. The Kraken aren’t giving up too many chances, are able to get the puck out of the zone, and he can be relied upon late in games. His game has matured this year, and he has finally developed into an everyday player that coach Dave Hakstol and the Seattle organization can rely upon night after night.
Sprong Proving Doubters Wrong
When the Kraken signed Sprong to a contract at the end of the preseason, it left some confused. They had too many forwards as is, and while he scored four goals last season, he didn’t have a strong overall game after getting traded from the Capitals to Seattle at the trade deadline. Full credit, though, to the Amsterdam native as he burst out the gates this season and has become a key piece in the Kraken’s early-season success.
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Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.