When the Minnesota Wild signed Jared Spurgeon after development camp, Wild fans had no idea what to do with him. Ultra small and ultra young, the best guess was Spurgeon would be wrecked within the first week. Yet, here he is, playing some solid positional hockey, adding a bit offensively, and not looking at all out of place. Which, in this case, is a huge compliment.
Defensemen take years to develop fully. Most never do. Spurgeon is being used in all situations against players that should be able to either skate around him or skate straight through him. It must be truly frustrating to be a 6' 3" 200 pound forward skating in on Spurgeon, thinking "holy crap, they sent a kid out here to stop me" only to have the puck, and Spurgeon, gone before they get there.
Most Wild fans still don't know what to do with him, but he is likely here to stay at this point.
|2011 - Jared Spurgeon||70||3||20||23||-4||6||2||0||1||92|
Nathan- Coming off a surprising, breakout rookie campaign, many were predicting a major sophomore slump for the diminutive blueliner. It didn't happen. Spurgeon is a positional player whose size (or lack thereof) is an asset. He is able to get into closer quarters and emerge with the puck. Great hands and good vision paired with above average rink awareness and hockey IQ means that Spurgeon is able to be an anomaly in the NHL; a defenseman who is neither offensive, nor defensive, nor puck-moving. He's an all-rounder and the perfect low second or high third pairing. You don't need to worry about him on the ice.
Bryan- Eighth highest scoring player on the team, top scoring d-man, Fourth on the team in total TOI, third on the team with 21:35 ATOI, top defenseman in PP TOI, sixth on the team in PK TOI. I know I'm not the biggest stats guy, but what those numbers tell you is that when the Wild needed a player to throw over the boards, more times than not... it was Spurgeon. You can't help but like the guy, and he's still only 22 years old. Twenty-two, folks. That'll do.
Jesse- If only this kid was taller than 5'8". He's got poise, he's got a smooth stride, he can make a good first pass, and he can even help quarterback a powerplay. Spurgeon led the Wild blueline with 23 points, and among regular defensman, Spurgeon had the best +/- with a -4. Not outstanding, but when the rest of the regulars all post double-digit negatives, it does say something.
Now, while Spurgeon is a total star on this team, he's just another 3rd-pair defensman on a team with a talented blueline and a real top pair. It may sound harsh, but if the Wild had a Kronwall/Carle pairing, Spurgeon easily gets moved back to the 3rd pair. Scandella and Gilbert would probably be the #2. Still, The Spurge is damn good defensman, especially considering his size.
Grade - B+
JS- Without a doubt, he was the best defenseman on the team in terms of all-around play. I would say he was the best in terms of offense by default. I feel he could do much better on the powerplay. I'd say he was maybe second/third best on defense, making him the best all-around when combined with the offense. I hope his concussion doesn't screw with his play too much, because for all intents and purposes, he's the best d-man on the team and gives a hell of a bang for the Wild's buck. I hope he can take another step offensively so that Gilbert and Scandella don't carry the entire load.