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Exit Interviews: Jared Spurgeon

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The offseason means the end of Wild games, but for the players, the work is never done. With Exit Interviews, Hockey Wilderness takes each player and reviews their season, highlighting what we liked seeing from them over the year, and pointing out what can be improved to take the next step next year. Today we sit down with Jared Spurgeon.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Spurge, come in, sit down.

Jared, since we brought you into the fold here, the 2010-2011 training camp, you have done nothing but exceed expectations. We signed you to a three-year entry-level deal as undrafted free agent and you have quickly ascended the ladder in the Wild organization. It took just 23 games in the American Hockey League (AHL) for you to make your NHL debut and you have stuck on the blue line ever since then, never looking back. You are a huge part of this team's success the past few years as a heavily relied upon top-4 defender and you really established yourself as a top-4 puck-moving defensemen the past seasons with your performances in the regular season and playoffs. Your ability to break the puck out of the defensive zone, and seemingly so effortlessly at times, and calm and composure with the puck have created numerous scoring chances for the club. We couldn't be happier with how you've developed as a player in your time here. We are fully confident with you on the ice in any situation and against any opponent.

This past season you finished with 25 points (9G-16A) in 66 games, second best in points and goals for defensemen on the team, while averaging over 22 minutes of time on ice (TOI) per night. You also added six point on the power play, stayed out of the penalty box with only three infractions on the year, and managed a plus-3 rating. Your game leaves very little room for criticism from an on-ice standpoint and you're already a veteran of five NHL seasons and have played 28 career Stanley Cup Playoff games at just 25 years old.

Expectations for Next Season

This upcoming season is a big one for you, Jared, as your contract will expire at the end of the year making you an unrestricted free agent (UFA). As of now, your future with this organization is uncertain. Simply put, the cap situation is tight with the other top players we have signed and there is little space available to work with. Your current situation could force us to look at trading you this off-season, it's nothing against you as a player or person, but rather that we can't afford to lose you in free agency for nothing given the limited financial flexibility going forward.

Putting all the business end of things aside, we would love to see you continue to grow your game offensively. We feel that you haven't quite hit your ceiling in that area and would like to see you break your career-high of 26 points. We expect you to play a larger role on the power play next season and that should help up your offensive production. Other than that, we expect your decision-making when jumping into the rush and pinching-in in the offensive zone will also improve with another season under your belt. Even though you aren't officially a captain, you're definitely a leader on the blue line and on the team in general. We count on you every night to be one of our best players. As you gain more and more experience in the league, your responsibility to going to grow. Be ready to take on the added pressures and challenges.

Off-Season Homework

Get Stronger: For a player of your stature, strength is a really crucial facet of your game that you need to keep up. We know you aren't getting any taller but there is definitely room to add some muscle to your frame. We think that improving in this area will help your overall durability and make you better in your own end, especially along the wall and in the corners.

Study Top Power Play QB's in the League: You have the skill set to be very impactful on the man-advantage. You skate well, have good hands, great hockey sense, and a hard shot. All the skills needed to be an elite point-man on special teams. Work on getting the confidence to make those special plays only the best guys can make because. You have the ability.