Can Jake Middleton Have Another Career Year?

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Jake Middleton, the last pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, has spent his entire hockey career fighting to get to the top. Between struggling to bust into the NHL full-time to working construction in the offseason to pay the bills, Middleton is a gem of a player. Now, as a partner to Jared Spurgeon on the top defensive pairing for the Minnesota Wild, Middleton seems to have found a home.

Last Season

Middleton isn’t known for putting pucks in the net or racking up points, but last season, he managed 15 points for a career year. Those three goals and 12 assists account for almost half of Middleton’s 32 career NHL points. Last season was his first full season in Minnesota, and those points seem to show that he’s comfortable with his place in the line-up. The Wild are known to have a system where defensemen can comfortably move to the net, and Middleton seems to be experimenting a little more with that.

Strengths

As a stay-at-home defenseman, Middleton balances out Spurgeon’s more offensive style. While he’s been putting up some points, Middleton is still more than happy to patrol the blue line while sending his partner into action. With his big size, Middleton also balances out Spurgeon’s smaller-than-average stature. They say opposites attract, and in this case, it works for defensive pairings.

Weaknesses

Middleton’s weaknesses don’t seem to be that big of a deal. Sure, he isn’t very offensive, but that works to his advantage with Spurgeon by his side. He also isn’t fast, but he’s consistent and rarely makes a mistake on the ice. Maybe his only weakness is that he’s too likable. None of his teammates have a shot at Mr. Personality when Middleton is around. Need proof? Watch his interview below. (As you can see from the caption, there is a swear word in it.)

Next Season

Could Middleton have another career year for points? As he settles in even more, it would be great to see him put up 20 points. One of the best things about Middleton is that when he was traded to Minnesota, he seized on his opportunity and continued to develop his skills. For most of last season, he and Spurgeon ranked among the top defensive pairings in the league. Here is a chart from March 2023 where they’re ranked 8th. No matter what, Middleton is a beauty worth cheering for. He continues to do the hard work and is finally getting the recognition.

2023-24 Minnesota Wild Season Predictions

Kirill Kaprizov

Mats Zuccarello

Ryan Hartman

Freddy Gaudreau

Matt Boldy

Marcus Johansson

Joel Eriksson Ek

Marcus Foligno

Connor Dewar

Brandon Duhaime

Jared Spurgeon

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