Daniel Sprong will return to the Penguins next season, though he’ll likely be ticketed for Pittsburgh.
Sprong was one of three players to re-sign with the Pittsburgh organization on Monday, joining forward Dominik Simon and defenseman Kevin Czuczman. Sprong and Simon signed one-way, two-year contracts while Czuczman inked a one-year, two-way deal. The contracts for Sprong and Simon carry an average annual value of $750,000, while Czuczman’s deal is $650,000 at the NHL level.
Sprong, 21, is coming off a standout rookie season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton where he was tied for second in the AHL with 32 goals, fifth with 65 points and eighth in power play goals with 11. He led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and all AHL rookies in goals and points, and his 32 tallies established a new rookie record for the Penguins. Sprong recorded two hat tricks with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and twice tallied four points in a game.
Sprong’s scoring achievements earned him a spot at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic. He was also named to the AHL All-Rookie Team.
Around midseason, Sprong earned a brief eight-game stint at the NHL level with Pittsburgh. His best performance during that stretch came during a 4-0 defeat of the New York Islanders on Jan. 5, 2018, a game that turned Pittsburgh’s season around. Sprong had three points (2G-1A) that evening playing on the Penguins’ top line next to Simon and captain Sidney Crosby.
Simon, 23, spent most of last season with Pittsburgh after spending the bulk of his first two pro seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He appeared in 33 games with Pittsburgh in 2017-18, registering four goals and eight assists. Simon made his NHL playoff debut in the opening round against Philadelphia, where he posted his first playoff point (assist) in Game 4. He finished the playoffs with eight games played and three assists.
In 21 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, Simon totalled four goals and 17 points. In his final game with WBS last season on Dec. 30, Simon scored on a breakaway in overtime to beat the Hershey Bears, 3-2. He was recalled to Pittsburgh the next day and remained with the big club for the rest of the season.
Czuczman, 27, spent the majority of his first season in the Pittsburgh organization with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and led the team’s defensemen with 35 points in 71 games. He also posted a plus-15 — a career high.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pound blueliner has played in 271 career AHL contests over four years with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Manitoba and Bridgeport. He has 18 goals, 71 assists and 89 points.
Czuczman, who hails from Port Elgin, Ontario, played 13 NHL games with the New York Islanders in 2013-14, recording two assists. He joined the Islanders as an undrafted free agent that winter following a three-year college career at Lake Superior.
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky