Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sprong Gets Up to 9 Games to Prove Worth

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sprong Gets Up to 9 Games to Prove Worth

Article excerpt

A quick skim of the Penguins schedule brings the eye to the 10th game of the season - Oct. 29 against the Buffalo Sabres.

Notable? For Daniel Sprong it is.

Sprong might still be on the Penguins roster by then. Or, he could be squeezed into a seat on a cramped bus somewhere in Canada, back with his junior team.

He's not getting ahead of himself right now.

Sprong, at the age of 18, is expected to make his NHL debut Thursday against the Dallas Stars after an exceptional preseason forced the franchise to fork over a roster spot. He has nine games before his entry-level contract kicks in.

"The first step was to make the team," Sprong said Sunday after a workout at Consol Energy Center. "I was pretty happy to get the call and get the good news. It's not over yet. I've got to keep earning my spot and keep playing well."

Sprong is expected to skate on the team's fourth line with veteran center Matt Cullen and winger Beau Bennett, making an unusually skilled trio for a fourth line.

Coach Mike Johnston said Sprong's demeanor this entire camp has been that of a player trying to stake his claim, not just "have an experience" he can share on those long junior hockey bus rides.

"It was interesting. When we told him he was staying with us [Saturday] he was very calm, controlled, he didn't jump out of his seat," Johnston said. "At the end of it, I think it really hit him that, 'Hey I'm here right now. I'm a player on this team.' . I liked his take-charge attitude on the ice. He wasn't afraid to make a mistake. He took charge of the puck. Took charge of situations. That's why he's here right now. He can help us."

Sprong said he was determined "to prove Pittsburgh right" when he fell to the second round in the June draft where the Penguins took him at No. 46 overall.

"The first thing I thought to myself is I've got to prove that I wasn't that low of a pick. …

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