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Penguins Trade Daniel Sprong for Marcus Pettersson; Full Trade Analysis

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PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Pittsburgh Penguins Right Wing Daniel Sprong (41) looks on during the second period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers on January 14, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 5-2. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

PITTSBURGH — The Daniel Sprong saga in Pittsburgh is over.

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded the struggling prospect with a big shot but lacking overall game to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for 22-year-old left-handed defenseman Marcus Pettersson.

In 46 career NHL games spanning four seasons, Sprong, 21, has nine points (4g, 5a). The Dutch-born winger had four assists this season but no goals. He had become a lightning rod for hockey debate in Pittsburgh as some fans pleaded for him to skate in the Penguins top lines, instead of his typical fourth line role.

Pettersson, 22, has one NHL goal and nine assists in 49 career games. He has six assists and +4 rating in 27 games this season. The Skelleftea, Sweden native was playing on the Ducks third pairing before the trade. He is in his second pro season. Last season, Pettersson split time between Anaheim and their AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Pettersson has a potentially large frame. The defenseman is 6-foot-3, but only 177 pounds.

The trade occurred just a couple hours after Pittsburgh Penguins little-used Sprong noted there was little he could do about not playing much. Sprong,was a second-round draft pick in 2015 but did not find a place in the lineup that worked, or that satisfied the Penguins coaching staff.

In practice Monday, Sprong took some turns on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist.

Asked after that how he is dealing with playing so little, Sprong said, “It’s out of my control, you know? That’s the coaching staff’s decision. I can just control what I can control.”

He said he had an opinion on why he’s not playing much, but he declined to make it public.

“Daniel is working hard in practice,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “When you look at some of the line combinations that we have, it makes for very difficult decisions on where certain players fit.”

Penguins Trade Analysis

Call this a home run for Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. It neatly sets up other deals and the removes what had become a distraction. In exchange for a 21-year-old sniper who had not yet sniped, the Penguins got a defenseman with 10 points in 49 games over two seasons and who is still growing into the North American game.

Pettersson was the Ducks second-round choice in 2014 (38th overall). He was not fighting for ice time, unlike Sprong who had done little to earn the trust of coaches or teammates. That is the important part. Sprong had not yet earned trust. He was a long-term project on a team which is out of time.

Sprong’s quip today that he believed he knew why he wasn’t playing but refused to share it is further proof of a widening gulch between Sprong and the coaches. An insider’s take is that Sprong was difficult to coach. On several occasions, Sprong confidently asserted he was doing well, even after coaches sent a different message. There was an obvious disconnect and every step forward was met with a step back.

Pettersson was averaging over 14 minutes of ice time per game, this season.

In the much lower scoring Swedish Elite League, Petterrson put up nine points (2g, 7a) and 49 penalty minutes in 41 games during the 2016-17 season.

Pettersson is a defenseman who has scored as many points as Sprong in nearly the same number of games but has not been subject to the severe ups and downs. Pettersson may fit very well in the Eastern Conference. He is a puck moving defenseman who has some offensive upside, though he hasn’t shown a great deal of that yet in North America.

At worst, the Penguins received a seventh defenseman. The more likely result is the Penguins got younger and with a capable left side defender who makes expendable one of the Penguins higher priced options.

Editors Note: the original story incorrectly listed Pettersson’s career total number of assists as 18. It was corrected.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Big B
Big B
2 years ago

Great call Dan Jim got a good deal where Montreal, Carolina and Vancouver lost similar players to waivers.

RobertU
RobertU (@robertu)
2 years ago

Seems like the right move. Malcontent #1 is out the door. The way the online fans (and Greg W at ESPN) talk about Sprong, you’d think he was a top-3 pick or something. That quote about knowing why he isn’t getting playing time is bush-league stuff coming from a second round pick with no actual success to leverage. It’s one thing if an elite, successful player makes a comment like that…or even a top pick. Then, it might suggest an issue with the coaching staff. But, when it’s coming from a second round pick who hasn’t displayed any pro-caliber skill,… Read more »

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago

I don’t trust anything that J.R. does any more. Guy has lost it ever since the Summer of ’17 . . .

G Antti Niemi (dumb-de-dumb-dumb)
F Ryan Reeves (waste of time)
F Riley Sheahan (dead weight)
F Derick Broussard (o-ver-ra-ted)
D Jamie Oleksiak (here today, gone tomorrow)
F Matt Cullen (waste of money)
F Derek Grant (who dat?)
D Jack Johnson (minus 13 and counting)
F Tanner Pearson (jury is out)

And J.R. gets a contract extension for this? Double yoi!

Witch
Witch
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Luda

Not only the above, but look what he gave away for 3/4 of a season’s worth of Reaves. He gave up a first round pick again whom the Blues used to grab Klim Kostin. A 6’4 220 pound center whose stock hhas risen significantly since being drafted. I have no qualms about giving up a 1st round pick. Had to give one up to get Kessel. However, you don’t include a 1st round pick when the main component coming back is Ryan Reaves. And you don’t give up such an asset when the return has no chance of using his… Read more »

Big B
Big B
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Luda

Sorry Matt you’re wrong Niemi–cheap back up cost nothing Ryan Reeves– doing great in L.V blame Sully here Riley– helped save last season starting to play well now Derek Brassard –great trade can’t blame Gm if not working Jamie O–a great steal and solid d man this year, more value in a trade than what the team payed Matt Cullen– good depth and cost NO MONEY Derek Grant –a depth singing for NO REAL MONEY JJ –still early same as when COLE came in before COACH drove him out Tanner Pearson –doing great so far J.R got a contract extension… Read more »

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago

I can’t think of one solid move that J.R. has made since the team won its last Stanley Cup.

John B Sail
John B Sail
2 years ago

JR works has to work within the Cap, and keep the team competitive for the puck. They lose UFA to other teams and have to replace them with WB players or other FA’s. Sounds like a complicated job. The Pens make the playoffs consistently are in the puck run and won back to back. No team has done that for years under the Cap rules. If you are looking for Crosby’s and Malkins in trades they are not coming. You are not going to get World Class players.

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