Washington Capitals: Daniel Sprong Deserves Power Play Time

Daniel Sprong, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Sprong, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

Daniel Sprong deserves to start the 2021-2022 season as a mainstay on the Washington Capitals’ power play unit and see more ice overall than he did just a season ago. The 24-year-old Dutch winger impressed last season in limited time with the Caps.

Sprong’s shooting percentage of 17.6 was second on the team, behind only TJ Oshie. Garnering an average of only 11 minutes and 40 seconds on the ice, Daniel Sprong scored 13 goals and added 7 assists in 41 games.

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The Capitals see significant value in their Dutch sniper, choosing to protect him during the Expansion Draft and Brian MacLellan has gone on the record to commit to getting more ice-time for Sprong during the upcoming year.

"“Sprong had a good year this year,” MacLellan explained. “He’s a good young player. Looking to get him more ice time.”"

Last season, Daniel Sprong had no significant power play time to speak of despite a power play unit that at times looked predictable and stagnant. Yes, the Capitals’ high-powered power play unit did finish 24.8 percent effective on the year, good for third-best in the league but there were large stretches of time where they struggled. As a team, the Caps seemed to be frustrated and tried to force plays that weren’t there, which led to a league-high 8 shorthanded goals against. That’s unacceptable for any team’s power play, let alone a unit that features Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, and TJ Oshie.

The Capitals are loaded with talent and there isn’t a heck of a lot of room for a guy like Daniel Sprong, barring any injuries, to get top-six minutes consistently but Sprong showed too much last season to once again get relegated to a meager 11:40 of average ice-time per game. So where do you put him? You put him on the team’s top power play unit with Ovechkin, Backstrom, Carlson, and Oshie.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov is the odd-man-out in that equation; he seemed hesitant to shoot the puck last season and his 0.6 goals per 60 minutes on the power play were by far the lowest of his career. Despite his immense talent, Kuznetsov has not earned being on the top-unit in recent years. With that said, placing someone as talented as Kuznetsov on the second-unit makes the power play units deeper overall. In contrast to what Kuznetsov showed last season, Sprong has a willingness to shoot the puck and elite shooting ability. Daniel Sprong, opposite Ovechkin on the Capitals’ top-unit, adds another element that teams have to defend against to an already deadly power play.