Over the course of the next month, Konopkaesque will review each player who suited up for the Wild this season, with a few exceptions. 1) They had to play at least ten games during the season and/or playoffs (sorry, Brett Bulmer, Carson McMillan and John Curry) and 2) they had to finish the season as part of the organization, which ironically excludes the man for whom this blog is named, among others.
So, without further blathering, here’s today’s subject:
Jared Spurgeon, D, Age 24
Remaining contract (per capgeek):2 years, $2.67 million (RFA in 2017)
Games: 67 (Regular Season) 13 (Playoffs)
Goals: 5 (Regular Season) 3 (Playoffs)
Assists: 21 (Regular Season) 3 (Playoffs)
+/-: +15 (Regular Season) Even (Playoffs)
PIM: 16 (Regular Season) 2 (Playoffs)
ATOI: 22:38 (Regular Season) 24:04 (Playoffs)
What Did He Do?: Spurgeon took the rather giant leap this season from plucky, undersized overachiever to plucky, undersized cornerstone defenseman. Not bad for a player who was passed over by his original franchise (the Islanders) and only earned his chance with the Wild due to a team-wide defensive crisis in 2010, only never to look back.
Spurgeon’s ice time is telling. His 22:38 during the regular season is roughly comparable to high priced rearguards such as Brent Seabrook, Mike Green and Erik Johnson, among others. In terms of the Wild, he ranked third behind Ryan Suter (of course) and Jonas Brodin, as he and Brodin swapped partnership with the ironman himself. In the playoffs, the Wild seemed most effective with Spurgeon pairing with Suter, and the lofty comparison brought to mind would be the former Red Wing partnership of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. Whereas Suter is the Wild’s answer to Lidstrom, a do everything defenseman who controls a game in both ends seemingly without ever throwing a body check, Spurgeon is (to scale) comparable to Rafalski, another undersized, overlooked blueliner who makes impeccable decisions and knows instinctively when to get forward.
Perhaps the most impressive of any stat listed above, a group which includes career highs in goals, assists and points, is the 16 in the penalty minute column. Spurgeon is physically overmatched by generally every forward he matches up with, yet still manages to physically hold his own in the defensive zone without committing infractions. He does so by using what body he has perfectly, and his quickness allows him to win the necessary board battles. Once he has the puck, he rivals Suter in his ability to make an intelligent first pass.
What to Expect if You’re Expecting: Whether Spurgeon is a top line defenseman on a Stanley Cup caliber team is certainly up for debate, and if the Wild were to go after someone like Matt Niskanen, Spurgeon could see his ice time decrease. However, based on the symbiotic relationship he has with Suter, they seem like a partnership that isn’t worth breaking up, no matter what happens.
Trade Prospects?: I doubt Spurgeon is untouchable, but given his cap-friendly contract for a player of his production, not to mention the years of team control ahead for the Wild, the return would likely need to be game-breaking for Spurgeon to be shipped out of town.
Season Highlight: Perhaps lost in the glory of Nino Niederreiter’s dramatic overtime winner in game 7 is the fact that Spurgeon deftly tied the game with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, the fact that he did so after undressing Nathan MacKinnon, who was selling out to block a shot that never came and who posterized Spurgeon in game 2 makes this highlight all the sweeter: