Jared Spurgeon signed a brand spanking new 4-year, $20.75 million contract extension last week. It was a contract well earned for the diminutive defenseman who night-in and night-out has to prove he can play in the NHL while being small in stature.
What's not small is his stats, not to mention his timely goals. If you remember it was Spurgeon's game-tying goal late in the third period that got the game to overtime in Game 7 against the Avalanche in 2014. He impacts the game on both ends of the rink so well, and he plays like a top pairing defenseman should play.
But with the raise going into effect next season, the Wild will then have a little over $21 million dollars, or roughly 30 percent of the Wild's total cap hit allocated for defensemen. Which begs the question: Is it too much money locked up on one position group?
The Wild's defensive corps has an average age of 25.5 years. When you have so many good, young defensemen still yet to really reach their prime years and contributing 21 percent of the Wild's total goal production, it doesn't hurt to have them all secured under franchise control. A the top four will all be making $4 million or more next season. The only two under that is Nate Prosser's $625,000 contract, and Matt Dumba's RFA year.
"Our defense is the strength of our team, it gives us depth and may give us the opportunity to look at different options down the road," Chuck Fletcher said after re-signing Spurgeon. Fletcher said in plain English that he plans to use the team's strength to maybe acquire more assets in other areas. And that's what a general manger should do. They should use their strengths to help the team in other areas. However, as he admittedly said in that same statement, is that, "Our defense is the strength of our team." Just how much do you want to dip into that depth before it becomes just another weakness.
He's right, the Wild do have a good organizational depth of defensemen. A lot of that, though, is relatively unproven potential. Guys like Gustav Olofsson, while promising, have a ways to go before playing full-time minutes in the NHL. Mike Reilly signed as a coveted college free agent, but hasn't even had anything even resembling a sniff of NHL minutes. Christian Folin is an up-and-down player at this moment. Essentially, those are the guys that would get the first crack at the line-up should a possible NHL player swap take place involving a defenseman, unless, of course, a defenseman is acquired in return.
Is it too much money devoted to one position? The answer is all relative. If all of them were Clayton Stoner and the age of Ryan Suter, then yes, that would be a humongous problem for any team. But the Wild have productive, mobile, and young defensemen, on deals that were mostly earned by solid performance on the ice. Twenty-one million dollars for 21 percent of the offense? Yeah, I think that's pretty fair.