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Penguins notebook: Sprong could see time with AHL affiliate

| Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, 4:57 p.m.

Second-round draft pick Daniel Sprong has put up robust numbers since the Penguins sent him to his junior team in December, racking up 10 goals and 29 points in 20 games.

He's 13th in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in points per game.

His team, the Charlottetown Islanders, is not among the top title contenders in the QMJHL, however, which could set up the next step in the 19-year-old winger's development.

Once Charlottetown's season ends, the Penguins tentatively have planned for Sprong to join Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the AHL playoffs.

“We've had success over the last couple years with Wilkes-Barre going on a bit of a run and our college or junior players getting good experience out of that,” associate general manager Jason Botterill said. “Hopefully that transpires for Daniel and prepares him more for next year.”

Famous father

The Penguins are in the midst of their annual dads' trip, with the fathers of players and staff accompanying the team to Carolina and Florida.

Erich Kuhnhackl, the father of rookie winger Tom Kuhnhackl, wasn't able to attend. That's because the schedule of a hockey icon is often a busy one.

Erich Kuhnhackl, a 6-foot-5 center, was voted the German hockey player of the century in 2000. He had 1,428 points in 771 career games in the German league, played in three Olympics and 10 World Championships and was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1997.

Erich Kuhnhackl couldn't attend the dads' trip due to his commitments to the German national team and the club team in the family's hometown of Landshut. He was in the U.S. shortly before the All-Star break, however, and saw three of his son's first games in the NHL.

“It's great that he took the time, took off from his job and flew over,” Tom Kuhnhackl said. “Hopefully I made him proud.” Tom Kuhnhackl left his homeland to play junior hockey in Ontario shortly after the Penguins picked him in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL draft. Part of the reason for the move was to step away from his father's considerable shadow.

“Back home, everybody knew my dad,” Tom Kuhnhackl said. “I played up with the men's team when I was 16, and people thought it was only because of my dad. The chirping and all that stuff. I got used to it. I blocked it out. But over here, it's nice to get away from it a little bit.”

Stories from the road

The Penguins improved to 12-11-3 on the road this season with a 2-1 shootout victory at Carolina on Friday, but that development didn't have them turning cartwheels in the locker room.

The Penguins were outshot 30-26, outchanced 35-31 and generally were displeased with their play.

“It doesn't matter if it's home or road. We want to play the way we can and the way we should,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “I don't think it was our best, but we found a way.”

Regardless, when they visit Florida on Monday night, the Penguins will have a chance to move two games over .500 on the road for the first time since they improved to 6-4-1 with a 5-1 victory at San Jose on Dec. 1.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

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