Pens Send Daniel Sprong Back to Juniors

The Pittsburgh Penguins have returned 18-year-old 2015 draft pick Daniel Sprong to the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL, the team announced on Saturday.

Sprong, a 2nd round draft pick, has been the source of much discussion with general manager Jim Rutherford coming out and publicly criticizing former coach Mike Johnston’s usage of Sprong, giving him limited minutes and making him a healthy scratch.

Rutherford said he left lineup decisions with the coach, but didn’t understand why Johnston wouldn’t play Sprong if they have him.

Rutherford cut to the heart of the issue in Saturday’s announcement. “Spending this time in the NHL has been a good development experience for Daniel,” he said. “But it’s important for him to have more playing time.”

By keeping Sprong past the 10-game mark, they’ve burned one year of his entry-level contract. Though, it is prior to the 40-game mark, which would have burned a year toward his UFA status.

In Charlottetown, Sprong is likely to get a ton of playing time on a competitive team. With the Penguins struggling the way they are and getting a new coach, it may not benefit him much to be around this situation, where he’s not able to help a whole lot and is getting very little time to develop in a difficult environment.

Last season, Sprong put up 39 goals and 88 points in 68 games for the Islanders. he’s played 18 games for the Penguins this season, scoring two goals.

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