While some Seattle Kraken fans might be paying less attention to their team now that the inaugural season officially won’t include playoffs, viewers of the team’s more recent games may have noticed a new arrival making a bit of a splash: Daniel Sprong, who came over from the Washington Capitals at the trade deadline, is making a positive impact and turning some heads.
Sample Size is Important
We should temper our excitement somewhat, since Sprong has only played 11 games in a Kraken uniform, but his early production is promising. Four goals in 11 games played would translate to more than 30 in an 82 game season. The Kraken only have one player, Jared McCann who has a shot at those numbers this year.
For argument’s sake, let’s take a look at what the addition of 32 goals might have done for the team’s fortunes. Through 75 games, the Kraken have 194 goals for (including Sprong’s 4). That works out to 2.59 goals per game as a team and some quick, ugly math says that translates to 212 for the year. Adding an additional 28 (32 - 4 = 28) Sprong goals brings the season total to 240 (2.92 goals per game).
Based on current scoring rates, that would move the Kraken past eight other clubs who have underwhelmed this season and puts them in company with the teams jockeying for wildcard spots in the Western Conference race. Again, the math is overly simplified and nothing happens in a vacuum, but a second 30-goal scorer can only help the team.
Why was Sprong Available?
That’s the big question here, and likely the reason the math above won’t work out quite that way. Sprong’s time in Washington was a mixed bag, with relatively strong production, but time spent as a healthy scratch based on his previous coach’s opinion of his overall game.
The former Pittsburgh Penguins second round pick has now spent time with four NHL teams in his relatively young career, and virtually always found the back of the net. There is nothing harder to do at the pro level than scoring goals, so it’s definitely worth asking the question about why the last three clubs moved on. Logically it would seem that defensive concerns raised their heads so that’s something we’ll have to watch for as the team plays out the string of remaining games.
Sprong’s advanced statistics have generally been positive over his first 200 or so games, so it could be that the Kraken have scooped a player from a franchise that pays less attention to that sort of thing, but that doesn’t necessarily explain away the two trades prior. Worst case scenario would be if Sprong isn’t good “in the room” and has trouble getting along with teammates. That’s the sort of thing that can get out of hand on a developing roster like ours, but I doubt that’s the case. Most players get along most of the time, and I doubt general manager Ron Francis would bring in somebody with a rep for causing trouble.
In the current moment, it’s nice to see a new player finding some success and seeing the team win, even if each goal scored lowers the Kraken’s odds of selecting first overall at this summer’s Entry Draft. Sprong’s contract is up for renewal this offseason but he should give value for money regardless of his new salary. We’ll have to wait and see if he’s the real deal, but it looks like there’s a chance that our analytics department found a real gem.