Daniel Sprong in Montreal: the attacker would return to his city

Daniel Sprong has become the Montreal Canadiens’ plan B, if not plan C.

As Kent Hughes explores every option to land a top forward on the trade market, whether it’s the Jets’ Rutger McGroarty or Nikolaj Ehlers, Carolina’s Martin Necas, or the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras, the asking prices for those deals remain sky-high.

Hughes categorically refuses to sacrifice a young “stud” to the defense like Logan Mailloux, Kaiden Guhle or David Reinbacher. It is in this context that the name of Daniel Sprong begins to circulate in Montreal.

The NHL free agent market in 2024 has been particularly lively. The contracts and salaries allocated are dizzying.

190 signatures and over a billion dollars were spent on the first day of the market opening alone. Kent Hughes did not want to join this crazy dance.

Let’s just say that the Montreal Canadiens have been relatively quiet, if not non-existent. Aside from Juraj Slafkovsky’s contract extension and the one-year signing of Alex Barre-Boulet, no major transactions have been made, either on the free agent market or on the trade market.

The expectation was that the Canadiens would improve offensively primarily through trades, and Kent Hughes is indeed working on several fronts.

But if he can’t make THE deal everyone is waiting for, there’s still an interesting, cheap option available as a free agent: Daniel Sprong.

Yes, even if the name is not as attractive as the Ehlers, McGroartys, Necas or Zegras, Daniel Sprong could bring to the Canadiens what the team is looking for: goals.

The Canadiens’ biggest need is undoubtedly finding a goal scorer. And Daniel Sprong, even if he’s only been changing teams since he joined the NHL, is capable of scoring goals and amassing points.

Over the past two seasons with the Seattle Kraken and Detroit Red Wings, he has scored 39 goals and 89 points in 142 games.

Nine of those goals came on the power play, and four were game-winning goals. That level of production is all the more impressive considering he only averaged 12 minutes per game.

No one can deny his ability to find the back of the net. Sprong is not only a goal scorer, but also an excellent skater with great speed and good hands, which would be an excellent fit in Martin St. Louis’ system.

He is also a respectable playmaker. Of his 25 assists last season, 14 were primary passes (the last pass before the goal is scored).

Sprong has all the offensive tools to help the Canadiens’ second power play unit. Whether he’s playing alongside Kirby Dach on the second line or taking the place of Josh Anderson or Brendan Gallagher on the third line, Sprong will be able to give the attack a boost.

Come to think of it, we would see him on the 3rd line, because we don’t want him taking Joshua Roy’s spot with Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook on the 2nd line.

No matter where he ends up in the lineup, Sprong would immediately improve the Canadiens’ power play.

With nine goals and 26 power-play points over the past two seasons, Sprong would make the Canadiens a bigger threat with the man advantage.

He excels in the art of the one-timer. He will be able to practice with Cole Caufield during training. He has an excellent shot, he shows intelligence on the ice, while his teammates have always praised his “HOCKEY IQ”.

The fact that he can also be a playmaker would give the Canadiens an underrated and more complete player than one might think.

Above all, Montreal is the city of Daniel Sprong. Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, his family moved to L’Île-Bizard in Montreal when he was only 7 years old. (He played his junior hockey in the QMJHL with the Charlottetown Islanders.)

“I was born in Amsterdam, but my heart and my life are in Montreal. That’s where my best friends are, that’s where I grew up, that’s where I became a man, you can say that now. I’m 27, so I think I can’t say I’m a kid anymore.” (crédit: The Hockey News)

“It’s a great city to live in. Hockey was good, my parents were happy, everyone was happy living there, so I think year after year we just kept staying there, and ultimately, we’re still here. Montreal will always be my city.”

Kent Hughes didn’t want to affect his salary cap in the long term. That’s good. Sprong’s agent is reportedly looking for a two-year deal at an annual salary of $3.5 million. At only 27 years old, Sprong wouldn’t affect the rebuilding plan in any way.

Sprong is a great backup plan if Kent Hughes can’t make the trade he’s been looking for. He’ll be cheap and can fill a variety of roles, moving up and down the lineup as needed.

Knowing that he comes from Montreal too…the “fit” is simply perfect…

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