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Jared Spurgeon’s career year shows that size isn’t everything

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The Minnesota Wild’s best defenseman continues to get better despite the odds.

St Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild - Game Two Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Jared Spurgeon has been the Minnesota Wild’s best blueliner for a few years, and this season saw the coaching staff, front office, and local media all publicly agree on that. In fact, Spurgeon has been one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL for quite some time now, largely because of his size. Over this past season, however, Spurgeon has been noticeably more appreciated by national broadcasters and other teams.

Spurgeon’s season started off slowly, which wasn’t helped by an early injury against the Maple Leafs in October that kept him out for a few games. While he had still been grabbing assists, Spurgeon had only scored two goals by Christmas, but he quickly scored a few right after and landed on a better pace for the rest of the season.

Spurgeon scored one of the best Wild goals of the season in January against the New Jersey Devils.

About a month later, Spurgeon avoided a possible career-ending injury when Gustav Nyquist speared him in the face.

A late season minor injury would prevent Spurgeon from reaching the 40 point milestone, but overall, Spurgeon tallied 10 goals and 28 assists for a total of 38 points this season.

In 2015-16, Spurgeon, at 5.88, had the fifth best points/60 rating on the power play among defensemen who played at least 100 minutes on the PP and he was rated in the top 25 for all skaters. This season, Spurgeon’s 1.79 points/60 rating on the power play was only good for 67th.

While Spurgeon’s effectiveness on the power play took quite a dip, he made a large jump in 5 on 5 scoring. Amongst defensemen with 1000 minutes at 5 on 5 in 2015-16, Spurgeon’s 0.53 points/60 rating was ranked 103rd, but in 2016-17, Spurgeon’s 1.11 was ranked 11th. Further, with a CF% of 51.1, Spurgeon was one of the Wild’s best players at driving play, and was the Wild’s best regular defenseman in that area.

At 27 years old (and 28 in November), Spurgeon is in the prime of his career, and we can expect a similar, if not better, result next season. Moving forward, Spurgeon will likely continue to be the Wild’s #1 defenseman as Ryan Suter is only getting older and Matt Dumba isn’t quite at Spurgeon’s level yet. However, if the Wild trade Dumba, Spurgeon may see his role rise even further as he would be the Wild’s only top 4 right shot defenseman.