By Ian Oland
The Washington Capitals traded Daniel Sprong and two draft picks to the Seattle Kraken for Marcus Johansson ahead of the Trade Deadline on Monday.
Despite showcasing an electric shot and good speed, Sprong, 25, was a frequent scratch of Peter Laviolette over the last two seasons due to his defense, leading Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan to jettison the forward to his fourth NHL team in six seasons.
“I think there are certain aspects of his game that are inconsistent and that he needs to be more consistent in that area,” MacLellan said diplomatically. “I think the player when you’re not finishing, you get held accountable for those things you’re not accomplishing in that team aspect. I think you can overlook things when goals are being scored and you can’t when they’re not being scored.”
Sprong first found out about the trade while at MedStar Capitals Iceplex with his teammates for an optional practice.
“I didn’t expect it to happen,” Sprong said. “It was kind of a surprise. I think in every locker room they got TSN on or NHL Network with the trade center and it kind of got out there that Marcus was coming here. We didn’t hear what the return was or anything. I just got pulled into the coach’s office and got told that I was heading to Seattle.”
It’s unclear what type of opportunity Sprong will get with the expansion Kraken. When asked about acquiring the Dutch forward, Kraken general manager Ron Francis was ruthlessly honest, describing Sprong as “a player they wanted to give back to us.”
He added that “Daniel is a young player. He has some skill. We’ll give him a look in the last 19 games and see what he can do.”
Francis appeared more focused on the draft pick compensation Seattle received from the Capitals, a 2022 fourth-round pick and a 2023 sixth-round pick.
“The Jarnkrok, Giordano, and Johansson deals we retained salary on,” Francis said. “So that’s what we were looking to do there as well, to get an extra piece and an extra pick.
“We’ve got 12 picks in this year’s draft. Normally you have seven. We have 13 next year. Nine of those picks this year and next year are in the top two rounds.”
Capitals players were admittedly upset to see Sprong go. The forward had become particularly close to Vitek Vanecek, frequently getting coffee with the Capitals goaltender.
“It’s always tough,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “As players, that’s part of the business we know about and we’re dealing with. Obviously it’s tough to see a player go that’s a good person. Hopefully, he’ll do good in Seattle.”
Sprong, who scored 21 goals in 89 games for the Capitals, said his goodbyes on Instagram.
“I am extremely honoured and humbled to have played for such a great organization over the last 2 years,” Sprong wrote on Instagram. “I wanna thank the @capitals and the fans, the players and the people within the organization. They have a special place in my heart and allowed me to make many friendships and memories that will last a life time. I am thankful to you all and am excited for new beginnings in Seattle.”
Sprong appears set to play in his first game for the Kraken Tuesday night against the Arizona Coyotes.
Spring has Sprong! ☀️🌱🌷
Everyone show @sprong97 some #SeattleLove! pic.twitter.com/dfwX3MJIeh
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) March 22, 2022
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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