Are you ready to get excited about Ryan Sproul? If it was still 2013, we’d be all like Hell yes! But wouldn’t you believe it, it’s 2017. Ryan Sproul and his booming shot haven’t translated into the NHL the way many fans or the Red Wings brass hoped, but its too early to blow out the candle on this defenseman.
Hometown: Mississauga, ON
Drafted: 55th Overall, Detroit Red Wings, 2011.
Contract: One Year Remaining at $625,000. He will be an RFA with arbitration rights next summer.
Last Year’s Lowdown
Ryan Sproul finally got an honest crack at the Red Wings roster last year, if by “honest” we mean a 27 game look. Sproul saw most of his action in October and November, but he lost the position battle to Nick Jensen and Xavier Ouellet as the season wore on. Then, on March 4th Sproul took a hard hit from Edmonton’s Matt Hendricks, partially tearing his ACL. The injury shelved Sproul’s rookie season.
Sproul’s raw points-per-game pace from last year compare pretty well with Jensen, and their CF% was almost identical, with Sproul edging Jensen by 0.2% (50.6% to 50.4%.) That’s a good CF%, considering how bad the Wings were last season. But Sproul’s game time all came down to his defensive play, which couldn't hold up to the work of Jensen or Ouellet in the eyes of the coaching staff.
Despite what the coaching staff thinks about his defensive play, I enjoyed watching Ryan Sproul last year. It was a bit like watching Brendan Smith in his first season, except I thought Sproul was even more exciting in the offensive zone while being about as bad in the defensive end.
Where to Go From Here
Sproul still has not recovered from his partial ACL tear and might not be ready to go at the start of the season. This is not good news for either Sproul or the organization as Sproul needed to have a good off-season and come into training camp with all cylinders firing. Instead, he will have to work his way through the lineup from a disadvantaged position just to get a crack on the third defensive pair, and it may take an extended injury to another defenseman for him to see much time.
However, if Sproul can bring the right attitude to his development and hit the ground running when his opportunity arises, he could re-establish himself, which is an exciting prospect. To do that he absolutely has to become more responsible in front of Howard and Mrazek, but Sproul had a particularly bad second season in the AHL and rebounded solidly the next year. He may rubberband once again.