The Pittsburgh Penguins have been in a dire tailspin for the last few weeks, losing five games in a row including last night at the Washington Capitals. That’s created plenty of speculation about whether GM Jim Rutherford will make a move to address the roster in the coming days, given his propensity for making deals in the past. Darren Dreger was on TSN radio this morning talking about that, and mentioned that at least a small deal may be coming soon:
I don’t know that it’s going to be drastic. My sources yesterday [were] telling me that it might start with a smaller deal. You know Daniel Sprong, who is a 21-year old second-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins has been you know, a limited player in the organization the last couple of seasons. He’s out there for trade.
Dreger went on to explain his belief that Rutherford will make a move at some point to try and put an end to the losing skid, noting that other teams like the Los Angeles Kings could be looking to shake up their rosters as well. It’s not the first time Sprong’s name has been included in trade talks, given the fact that he still hasn’t established himself as an everyday player in Pittsburgh. That’s something that the organization was clear about wanting last spring, when Rutherford himself said that Sprong would be a “regular” in the lineup. He’s played in 12 of 14 games for the Penguins this season, but logged fewer than ten minutes of ice time in eight of them.
Still, there’s reason to believe that Sprong would still hold considerable trade value. The 21-year old forward scored 65 points in 65 games as an AHL rookie last season, and put up huge totals in the junior ranks of the QMJHL. Selected 46th overall in 2015, there’s still plenty of upside in the talented forward that could bring some more established talent back to Pittsburgh.
Giving up on a young prospect isn’t exactly ideal, but the Penguins know they are in the middle of their competitive window with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel all quickly nearing the end of their most effective years. Rutherford has a reputation for making big positional changes in-season, and is never one to wait until the deadline to go after the player he is targeting. It’s not clear who Pittsburgh would want in any Sprong deal, but you can be sure the Penguins will make some sort of move before the season is out. Knowing that, there’s no doubt that teams are calling on Sprong to see if they can extract the talented young forward. Whether they can pry him out of Rutherford’s grasp is still to be seen.