The Capitals were very busy in the offseason adding to the blue line and in net, but the team was very quiet in terms of adding forward depth despite it being an area of need. While that may be in part because of the team's tight cap situation, it also may be because there is already a candidate within the organization who appears ready to step into a full-time NHL role next season. That player is forward Daniel Sprong.
Acquired at the trade deadline in a trade that sent Christian Djoos to the Anaheim Ducks, Sprong was an interesting pick-up. Though he spent the majority of last season in the AHL, he is a player who has already established himself as a consistent point producer at the NHL level.
Sprong has 97 games of NHL experience with 19 goals and 11 assists and -- according to Zack Fisch, the voice of the Hershey Bears -- he is exactly the type of player the Caps need to bolster their bottom-six.
Fisch called Sprong a "bonafide goal-scorer and a bonafide sniper" in an interview on the Capitals Talk Podcast.
"He has an NHL shot," Fisch said. "That's the most exciting thing for me about him that is going to translate right away. His shot is as good as I've seen in the American Hockey League."
Because he was a late addition and because the coronavirus pandemic ended the season early, Sprong only played five games for the Bears after he was acquired. But he scored one goal and five assists in those five games.
Fisch also is not basing his opinion of Sprong solely on what he did in Hershey, he is a player Fisch is familiar with from his time playing for rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
"We've seen [Sprong] on the other side when he was in the Penguins organization, he tore up the AHL as a rookie with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in that 17-18 season," Fisch said. "The Bears weren't a very good club that year, Sprong feasted on them, but his shot off his stick, it is electric."
A 23-year-old second-round draft pick who has already been a part of three organizations is not going to be a perfect player and Sprong is not. As Fisch noted, Sprong's defensive acumen is a weakness. There are lots of players who can score at the AHL level who find their success does not translate to the NHL. Coaches are often wary of playing one-dimensional offensive players in the bottom six where scoring chances may be limited.
But Sprong's track-record also cannot be disputed. He scored 14 goals in 2018-19 in a 47-game span with the Ducks. As far as candidates for the third-line in Washington, Fisch sees Sprong as the team's best option.
"The Capitals camp for return to play, it seems like he really solidified himself there," Fisch said. "While I've seen a lot of people pencil him in, he seems to be that best option, at least internally, for this club."