Everyone say: CHEESE!
An off-season signing that no one thought twice about, Spurgeon was supposed to be depth in Houston, likely never to see the light of day in the NHL. Five foot nothing, seventy five pounds soaking wet, it made little sense to think he would be in the NHL. Then, he was called up, and no one understood what took so long to get him here.
His size has yet to show up as an issue. While he not being thrown out against the Tomas Holmstrom's of the the world, he played top pairing minutes and played in every situation. He never looked out of place, and is one of the most solid defensemen on the team positionally.
Make the jump for grades.
JS- GRADE: A- The little Spurgeon that could. This guy quickly became one of my favorite players and is my personal choice for the Wild Calder. As the season winded down, his offensive game grew and he ended up posting a solid 4 goals and 8 assists, his 4 goals good for 3rd among team defensemen in only 53 games. He could stand to shoot more, but once his confidence grows, so will his skill. His super-small stature never hurt his ability to play a strong defensive game too, as he plays with a considerable edge no matter who's in his zone. An aspect of his game we never talk about is his discipline. Only 2 PIM in the season, which is amazing for a defenseman. He had the team's third best +/- number among regulars at -1. I'm very excited to see this player grow even more next season, I hope he truly is a diamond in the rough. Considering he was on no one's radar at the beginning of the season, I feel inclined to give this guy a A- for his meteoric rise and his great play throughout the season.
Elise- GRADE: B+ Spurgeon was brought up and he more than surpassed expectations. His points are phenomenal but promising, his defense sound and he can mostly hold his own despite his small size. Good job to him for forcing the Wild to keep him up in Minnesota and looking forward to see if he can take even more steps forward next season.
Dan- GRADE: A Did not expect anything from him when he was called up. I mean, he's 5'9 and not exactly ripping up the AHL. All of a sudden, in comes a solid defenseman that can move the puck and can play well defensively. A for surprising the !@#$ out of me. Great pick up by Fletcher and co.
Bryan- GRADE: A+ I had my doubts with this kid. His size wasn't one of them, believe it or not. All doubts are gone, and Spurgeon is going to be a top tier NHL offensive d-man. His defense is nothing to be doubted either, as he is always in position and able to knock a guy off the puck. Now, do I think he can stand out front and knock Thomas Homstrom away from the goal mouth? No way. However, he is an NHL quality d-man with a great contract, and was a great pick up by Chuck Fletcher.
Nathan- GRADE A. I was incredibly underwhelmed by this signing, and terrified when I saw him on the ice for the first few games. However, his smooth skating, excellent position, fantastic stickwork and hockey sense brought images of a smaller Paul Martin (without the offensive upside). The kid is everywhere he's supposed to be on the ice, rarely lets himself be pushed around, even more rarely makes a mistake and provides confidence for his partner. Now that's he's comfortable with the size and speed of the NHL game, I'd like to see him take a more active role in leading the breakout, taking more shots and working the power play. Spurgeon is exactly the kind of kid you want as a major part of a youth movement. Great find here.
Cumulative GPA: 3.80 A
I was one of the last to come around on the talent Spurgeon has. I still get freaked out every time I see him on the ice, for fear he is going to get steam rolled, but it hasn't happened yet. He is so sound positionally, he can frustrate anyone on the ice, and takes very few penalties doing it. The kid has talent, of that there is no doubt. He, once again, defied the critics, and I will eat my crow in peace.
Well done, kid.