ARLINGTON, V.A. — When Daniel Sprong got to MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Monday, he’d heard rumblings about the Washington Capitals possibly bringing in Marcus Johansson. However, he soon found out he was part of that trade when he was pulled into the coach’s office and told he was headed to the Seattle Kraken.
The Netherlands native then headed to the dressing room and the ice, hugging his teammates goodbye and thanking those around him before heading out.
“I didn’t expect it to happen. It was kind of a surprise,” Sprong said.
Washington had acquired Sprong back at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Christian Djoos. In 2020-21, Sprong showcased his strong shot and top-6 potential, netting 13 goals and seven assists in 42 games. However, he couldn’t recapture that consistency this season and struggled to find the back of the net. He has just eight goals and six assists through 47 games and had spent a lot of the recent stretch as a healthy scratch.
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Sprong tried to find the right words to explain his lack of success in D.C., saying that it had to do with expectations and a lack of puck luck.
“I think just the expectation everyone had for me going into this year. I had those expectations for myself as well,” Sprong noted. “I thought it was going to be a breakout year, and just the puck wasn’t really dropping for me. You’ve seen the games. I’ve had some really good opportunities to put the puck in the net and just missed my opportunities. I think if a couple of those go in earlier in the year, I think that puts a little bit of less pressure on yourself, and you relax a little bit more.
“I think that was a big part of it. Just the pressure of knowing I could produce this way and everyone expecting it. But I had the chances, they just didn’t go in. I think my overall play was pretty good. I think there was a little stretch there where it dropped a little, but I thought in general, I was playing good hockey. It’s the business side, and it is what it is. But I know I can be a productive player in this league, and I’m going to get 20 games in Seattle to show it.”
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Sprong also admitted that it was difficult to say goodbye to his teammates. It is something he has experienced before, but he had mentioned that he was happy to have called The District his home for a couple of years and that the locker room is a tight-knit group where he’s made quite a couple of good friends.
Vitek Vanecek was among those good friends. The two became close in Hershey and used to get coffee together daily. Tom Wilson was also in the coffee group, and they’d play “rock, paper, scissors” to see who would play.
“I really liked it here,” Sprong mentioned. “We have a really close group of guys in that locker room, so we know each other really well. We’ve been together last year and this year. So it’s a little hard when you become really close to your teammates. Like I said, really enjoyed it here. Kove the fans, love the team. So it was kind of hard to say goodbye to the guys but that’s the business side. I’m going to be in Seattle now, so new opportunity.”
Ultimately, Wilson said he’s looking forward to seeing what the 25-year-old does with the Kraken.
“It’s never easy,” Wilson said. “You realize pretty quick that it’s a business, and you realize a guy’s life kind of gets uprooted and is kind of shipped off… Spronger’s got a good opportunity for him as a player, as an individual to go there and make some noise. Got to know him pretty well this year. He’s a deeper book than people realize. He’s a good guy. We had fun with him this year, fun getting to know him and wishing him the best.”