When it comes to Jared Spurgeon, there’s only one reason national media usually mention him: he’s uncharacteristically small for a defenseman. Specifically for a good defenseman. They treat his typically outstanding stats as some sort of oddball marvel because of his size. His size, unfortunately, is also the reason why he’s chronically NOT included on lists of good D-men. But Minnesota Wild fans are always willing to jump to his defense because, yes, he really is that good!
The beloved Captain of the Wild had a good year. Playing first pair with Jake Middleton, Spurgeon managed 34 points in 79 games. With 11 goals and 23 assists, Spurgeon was the top-scoring defenseman on the Wild. The chemistry he has with Middleton is noticeable on the ice. Middleton uses his size and “stay at home” style to hold down the blue line, leaving Spurgeon with a little more room to roam. And while the +/- stat isn’t necessarily the best stat to judge all players by, Spurgeon’s +32 for the past two seasons is impressive. Also, last season, Spurgeon passed Ryan Suter and became the all-time defensive scoring leader for the Wild.
Spurgeon is a solid player who knows where to be at the right time. He’s a smooth skater who manages to be physical when necessary without taking many penalties. As a captain, he’s a strong but quiet leader. He also takes credit for his mistakes. Who can forget the OT diving poke check when he was caught out of position? Spurgeon is a great role model for younger players, showing that hard work is what matters.
His biggest weakness is the fact that he is so underrated around the league. A casual NHL watcher probably wouldn’t recognize his name, and that’s a darn shame. His smaller stature doesn’t have to be a weakness, but national hockey coverage seems bound and determined to try and make it one. If Spurgeon were bigger, he’d get the recognition he deserves. For now, Minnesota fans know and always seem willing to bring his name into conversations about the best defenseman in the NHL.
There isn’t much to predict. Spurgeon is a steady player who plays a solid game. He’s a predictable player, in a good way. Last year’s 34 points were a little under where he had been previously, so maybe he’ll kick that up to 40 points next season. Part of that might be because he was quarterbacking the second power-play unit, which didn’t get much ice time because of the success of the top unit. But if and when Calen Addison is back, Spurgeon is likely to stay on the second unit. If Spurgeon and Middleton keep up their partnership (and there’s no reason to think they’ll play any differently this season), Spurgeon will also likely keep his higher +/- stat.