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[Wild About Numbers]: Breaking Down Jared Spurgeon's Usage & Amazing Impact

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The Wild may have one of the most effective blue liners in the NHL on their roster, but is he being underused on the 2nd pairing?

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Spurgeon has been a major cult hero around Hockey Wilderness for a while. Since being one of the only things we could enjoy about the Wild back in 2011/12 he has occupied a special place in our hearts. But even the most ardent of Spurgeon fans couldn't have forseen what a force he would become by the age of 25. After all, we're talking about an undersized d-man who was unsigned by the New York Islanders after being drafted by them in the 6th round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and was considering trying his luck in Europe when he went undrafted after re-entering in 2010. The Wild took a punt inviting him to training camp in 2010 and it has paid dividends.

Spurgeon has firmly established himself as a top-4 defenceman in the NHL who is capable offensively and defensively in all situations. But how good is he really?

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For a start, here are the top 20 defencemen (out of the 143 eligible) in GF%RelTM (On Ice Goals For% Relative to Team) at 5v5 since 2010/11:

Defencemen (2500+ Mins Played): 2010/11-2014/15 @ 5v5

Player Name

GP

TOI

GF%

TMGF%

GF% RelTM

1

SPURGEON, JARED

219

3667:26:00

54.7

44.8

9.9

2

HAMHUIS, DAN

235

4033:59:00

56.5

48.3

8.2

3

TANEV, CHRISTOPHER

176

2832:37:00

57.4

49.5

7.8

4

ELLIS, RYAN

184

2551:03:00

56.5

48.9

7.6

5

KINDL, JAKUB

190

2643:01:00

58.8

51.2

7.6

6

BRODIE, TJ

233

4078:12:00

52.2

44.7

7.5

7

VISNOVSKY, LUBOMIR

158

2578:00:00

55.6

48.1

7.5

8

SHATTENKIRK, KEVIN

259

4095:11:00

59.1

51.8

7.3

9

NISKANEN, MATT

246

3938:56:00

58.1

51.2

6.9

10

VLASIC, MARC-EDOUARD

261

4631:16:00

56

49.3

6.7

11

GIORDANO, MARK

223

3891:01:00

51.4

45.3

6.1

12

SUBBAN, P.K.

255

4452:11:00

55.1

49.1

6

13

GUNNARSSON, CARL

226

3630:07:00

53.4

47.7

5.6

14

LOVEJOY, BEN

177

2708:15:00

56.8

51.2

5.6

15

ROZSIVAL, MICHAL

163

2521:44:00

57.6

52.1

5.6

16

RUSSELL, KRIS

205

3398:29:00

52.9

47.8

5.1

17

GREENE, ANDY

237

4066:08:00

51.2

46.2

5.1

18

BURNS, BRENT

231

3626:49:00

55.4

50.4

4.9

19

BOYCHUK, JOHNNY

236

3982:17:00

59.7

54.9

4.8

20

VOYNOV, SLAVA

190

3114:56

55.6

50.9

4.8

This shows that Spurgeon being on the ice is having a greater positive impact on his team's goal differential than any other regular d-man over the last few years. With Spurgeon on the ice, the Wild have scored 54.7% of 5v5 goals (this drops to 44.8% when he's off). That's a remarkable increase.

With Spurgeon on the ice, the Wild have scored 54.7% of 5v5 goals (this drops to 44.8% when he's off).


It must be noted, because of the relative infrequency of goals and the great impact of Sh% and Sv%, we tend to use shot-based metrics rather than goal-based ones for statistical evaluation. Spurgeon's GF%RelTM is excellent, but GF% is basically fancy plus/minus and is mostly driven by things largely outside the control of an individual player (e.g. how his linemates are shooting/how well the goalies behind him are playing).


So before we draw any great conclusions, let's look at how Spurge has performed by shot-based metrics. Usage Adjusted Corsi% (tracked by OwnThePuck.net) is a handy rough indicator of a player's impact at 5v5. It is the player's raw on ice Corsi% (shot attempts differential) adjusted based on important contextual factors such as who he has played against and which teammates he has played with.

Spurgeon: 5v5 Usage Adjusted Corsi%

TOI

Usage Adj. Corsi%

Rank

2010/11

681

49.60%

103rd out of 187

2011/12

1109

49.90%

90th out of 190

2012/13

617

50.50%

48th out of 119

2013/14

1158

53.10%

29th out of 193

2014/15

674

53.80%

15th out of 105

...and in graph form:

spurge usage adj corsi

Spurgeon has improved each season to the point where he is among the best in the league at controlling 5v5 play.


If Corsi isn't your cup of tea and you're more interested in scoring chances (which are sort of tracked by war-on-ice.com) you'll be pleased to know that Spurgeon has had one of the greatest positive impacts on his team's scoring chance differential this season:

Name

Pos

GP

SCF%

SCF%off

SCF%Rel

1

Patrice.Bergeron

C

48

60.4

48.5

11.9

2

Vladimir.Tarasenko

R

50

58.7

48

10.7

3

Jakub.Voracek

R

50

55.5

46.1

9.4

4

Nick.Foligno

RL

47

53.9

44.5

9.3

5

Joe.Pavelski

RC

50

56.5

47.5

9

6

Colin.Wilson

C

48

59.6

51.6

8

7

Kris.Letang

D

44

56.1

48.2

7.9

8

Jared.Spurgeon

D

43

57.5

49.7

7.8

9

Reilly.Smith

RL

49

57.4

49.7

7.7

10

Alex.Goligoski

D

49

56.8

49.2

7.7

11

Mikko.Koivu

C

50

58.5

51

7.5

12

Nathan.MacKinnon

CR

51

48.6

41.1

7.5

13

Joe.Thornton

C

46

56

48.6

7.4

14

Evgeni.Malkin

CR

45

55.6

48.2

7.4

15

Gabriel.Landeskog

L

51

48.4

41.1

7.3

16

Claude.Giroux

C

49

53.8

46.7

7.2

17

Tomas.Tatar

LR

50

58.7

51.8

6.9

18

Brian.Campbell

D

48

56.8

49.9

6.9

19

Nazem.Kadri

C

49

49.7

42.8

6.8

20

Mark.Giordano

D

50

49.2

42.4

6.8

He ranks 2nd among d-men, and 8th overall in SCF%Rel (On ice Scoring Chance For% relative to teammates). The Wild are getting 57.5% of scoring chances while he's on the ice, and only 49.7% when he's off. I imagine the multi-year data paints a similar picture but, unfortunately, War-On-Ice is currently down so I only have this year's data available.


It's not just his 5v5 play that makes Spurgeon such an effective contributor, he's also extremely useful on the powerplay:

Defencemen: 2011/12 to 2014/15 (300+ PP Mins Played)

Player Name

GP

TOI

G/60

1

CHARA, ZDENO

156

366:48:00

2.29

2

WEBER, SHEA

177

568:19:00

1.9

3

VATANEN, SAMI

107

306:42:00

1.76

4

EDLER, ALEXANDER

157

487:01:00

1.6

5

BOYLE, DAN

153

529:30:00

1.59

6

HAMILTON, DOUGIE

156

312:19:00

1.54

7

SEABROOK, BRENT

180

398:55:00

1.5

8

EKMAN-LARSSON, OLIVER

179

703:06:00

1.45

9

BYFUGLIEN, DUSTIN

174

626:55:00

1.44

10

SHATTENKIRK, KEVIN

178

559:04:00

1.4

11

WISNIEWSKI, JAMES

151

516:18:00

1.39

12

SUBBAN, P.K.

174

749:40:00

1.36

13

WIDEMAN, DENNIS

142

454:39:00

1.32

14

DALEY, TREVOR

158

323:31:00

1.3

15

SPURGEON, JARED

149

370:20:00

1.3

16

BURNS, BRENT

150

385:46:00

1.24

17

ZIDLICKY, MAREK

180

545:45:00

1.21

18

GARRISON, JASON

176

408:04:00

1.18

19

GIORDANO, MARK

162

477:26:00

1.13

20

STREIT, MARK

181

591:50:00

1.12

Despite playing on a team that has consistently been in the bottom half of the league in PP%, Spurgeon has managed to score PP goals at the 15th highest rate of any d-men in the league.

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So what about his usage? In the following table, I've broken down his TOI in various situations and ranked it against the top 120 d-men in total TOI from each season since the lockout:

ES TOI/G

PP TOI/G

PK TOI/G

TOI/G

2012/13

17:07

80th

03:05

25th

01:19

101st

21:32

60th

2013/14

18:29

37th

02:07

54th

02:01

72nd

22:38

43rd

2014/15

17:58

23rd

01:57

38th

02:09

52nd

21:59

22nd

Interestingly, his usage is down this season compared to last year, but he ranks higher in all categories. Is it just that there are fewer d-men getting worked into the ground league-wide this season? It could just be because this season is only half way through. It'll be interesting to see how this table looks at the end of the year.

So despite mostly playing on the 2nd pairing, it seems that Spurgeon is getting a lot of ice time relative to d-men around the league. Still, I don't think Ryan Suter getting nearly 4 more minutes of even strength TOI more per game than him is making the Wild better.

*

One last thing; as Tony mentioned in his article the other day, OwnThePuck.net has launched this awesome player evaluation tool that shows how a player has performed by several important statistics at 5v5 over the past 3 seasons and ranks him against other players of the same position around the league. To sum up a lot of what I said in this article, here's Spurgeon's:

<script type='text/javascript' src='http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js'></script><div class='tableauPlaceholder' style='width: 654px; height: 638px;'><noscript><a href='http:&#47;&#47;ownthepuck.blogspot.ca&#47;'><img alt='Dashboard 1 ' src='http:&#47;&#47;publicrevizit.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;N4&#47;N4QFQXHNW&#47;1_rss.png' style='border: none' /></a></noscript><object class='tableauViz' width='654' height='638' style='display:none;'><param name='host_url' value='http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F' /> <param name='path' value='shared&#47;N4QFQXHNW' /> <param name='toolbar' value='yes' /><param name='static_image' value='http:&#47;&#47;publicrevizit.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;N4&#47;N4QFQXHNW&#47;1.png' /> <param name='animate_transition' value='yes' /><param name='display_static_image' value='yes' /><param name='display_spinner' value='yes' /><param name='display_overlay' value='yes' /><param name='display_count' value='yes' /><param name='showVizHome' value='no' /></object></div><div style='width:654px;height:22px;padding:0px 10px 0px 0px;color:black;font:normal 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;'><div style='float:right; padding-right:8px;'><a href='http://www.tableausoftware.com/public/about-tableau-products?ref=http://public.tableausoftware.com/shared/N4QFQXHNW' target='_blank'>Learn About Tableau</a></div></div>


Anyway, bottom line on Spurgeon is: he's fun as hell to watch on the ice every night and he's also incredibly effective. Not to mention he's only 25. I'm looking forward to many more years of TANK domination.

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That's all from me. Leave a comment with your thoughts, share on Twitter/Facebook, etc. etc.


Thanks to Stats.HockeyAnalysisWar-On-Ice and OwnThePuck for the data.