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Penguins

Penguins send down top prospect Daniel Sprong to make room for Bryan Rust

Jonathan Bombulie
| Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, 6:12 p.m.
The Penguins' Daniel Sprong scores his second goal of the game at 13 minutes, 28 seconds of the third period against Jaroslav Halak of the Islanders on Jan. 5, 2018.
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The Penguins' Daniel Sprong scores his second goal of the game at 13 minutes, 28 seconds of the third period against Jaroslav Halak of the Islanders on Jan. 5, 2018.

Top prospect Daniel Sprong hasn't secured a full-time NHL job just yet.

The 20-year-old scoring winger was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday afternoon, making room on the roster for Bryan Rust, who is close to returning from an upper-body injury that has kept him out since Dec. 27.

Sprong was called up Dec. 30 to much fanfare. In his fourth NHL game of the season, he had two goals and an assist playing on the team's top line with Sidney Crosby in a 4-0 victory over the New York Islanders.

Sprong did not hit the scoresheet in any of the other seven NHL games he played.

Last Wednesday in Anaheim, he played less than nine minutes and did not take a shift in the third period as the Penguins tried to erase a deficit. He was a healthy scratch for the next two games, losing his place on the top line to Conor Sheary and his spot in the lineup to call-up Jean-Sebastien Dea.

“It's just part of the process. That's part of learning how to be a pro,” coach Mike Sullivan said after the first of those scratches. “When you're trying to establish yourself as an NHL player, a lot of players go through it. Daniel is no different. It doesn't, by any means, diminish what we think of Daniel or what we think we can bring to our team. This is part of the process of development and growth with players.

“We're excited about what he's brought here. He's a good player. He can really shoot the puck. Obviously, he has some scoring touch. We're trying to work with him with other aspects of his game, but certainly him and I had a conversation on the process.”

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

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