Lately, there has been some talk about the Minnesota Wild possibly looking into trading defenceman Jared Spurgeon.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal recently wrote:
“Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, who needs a young scorer with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville coming up dry in the playoffs, and Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, who needs a defenceman who can eat up minutes, should be on the phone to each other.
Chiarelli, who has never had trouble with small defencemen (see Torey Krug and Brad Marchand in Boston), should be making a strong pitch for Tyler Ennis’s best buddy Jared Spurgeon, a solid No. 3 National Hockey League defenceman with strong possession numbers.
And Fletcher should be asking about winger Nail Yakupov because Chiarelli may not be married to the young Oilers as former GM Craig MacTavish was.” – Jim Matheson, Edmonton Journal
Now it is true that the Minnesota Wild need a young scorer, but it’s not necessarily true that trading Jared Spurgeon is the best way to get that accomplished. Spurgeon has a lot to offer Minnesota, and I’m of the opinion that Fletcher should be working on keeping him here, not trading away one of the team’s best d-men for a 50-50 shot at more offense.
While it may be just a rumor that Spurgeon will be headed to Edmonton in the near future, here are three reasons I think it should just stay a rumor.
1. Team Player
Jared Spurgeon has played with the Wild since 2010, when the team signed him to a three-year contract after an impressive training camp. Spurgeon has grown and matured with Minnesota, learning the system, how to work with other members of the team, and the way Mike Yeo likes to coach. I’m not saying Minnesota should keep him around solely because he’s been here for five years, but because he’s a core member of the team.
Spurgeon has established himself as one of the top three defencemen on the team, and he makes a solid defensive pairing no matter who he plays with. As is the case with Ryan Suter, Spurgeon is the perfect parter for a bigger, more physical defenceman.
Breaking up defensive pairings when they’re successful just doesn’t sound like a good idea, especially for the Minnesota Wild. This team doesn’t score all that much, so preventing goals against is essential. Without Spurgeon, I undoubtedly think the Wild’s defense will be compromised.
Fletcher can add a big-time scorer without compromising defense at the same time.
Spurgeon is only 25 years old, yet he’s already played 295 regular-season games and 26 in the post-season. That experience is invaluable to the Wild, a team with a rather young group of defenseman: Christian Folin is 24, Matt Dumba is 20 and Jonas Brodin is 21. Out of those three, Brodin has played the most NHL games with 195, while Dumba and Folin have yet to reach 100.
Spurgeon is hardly older than these guys, but he’s had much more time to master playing in the NHL. Dumba, Folin and Brodin will all become excellent defencemen in time, but having a mentor they can relate to wouldn’t hurt, especially in Dumba’s case. The two play a pretty similar style of hockey, and Spurgeon would be the perfect example for Dumba to model his game after.
Spurgeon’s youth also gives him the ability to play for many more years. He’s already one of the best small defencemen in the league, so I can’t imagine what he could become in a few more years. The 5’9″ blueliner realistically has ten-plus years left to play hockey, and he will only continue to become a more valuable asset for the Wild.
3. Size, speed, shot
Jared Spurgeon is not a big guy. That’s obvious. But he more than makes up for his small size with the way he plays. In fact, his stature may actually be a benefit to him.
Spurgeon is fast, agile and has a rocket of a shot. He’s also not afraid to throw what weight he has around. Although a smaller player, Spurgeon doesn’t shy away from checking or getting involved in the physical aspects of the game. However, he also possesses the ability to dart around the ice, avoiding big hits and making smart passes instead of always relying on size. It’s not all that common to see a big defenceman with speed, but Spurgeon has that covered.
Because he can’t always rely on his size, Spurgeon has to play more intelligently than he would if he were say, 6’5″, 230 lbs. His smart puck-handling combined with his speed has led Spurgeon to become one of the Wild’s leading scorers, in terms of defencemen. Overall, Spurgeon scored the tenth-most goals on the team this year with 9. He stands behind only Marco Scandella (11) for the most goals scored by a defenceman on the team during the 2014-15 season.
Three of those nine goals came on the power play, which is huge for Minnesota, a team that needs all the help they can get scoring with the man advantage.
The full package
Jared Spurgeon has it all: speed, youth, goal-scoring ability, a huge shot, the list goes on and on.
Nail Yakupov may very well have the ability to become an offensive superstar, but nobody can be sure of that. The Wild have a history of acquiring players that are due to become tremendous goal scorers, but always seem to become busts. On top of that, Minnesota has plenty of talent already inside the organization that could easily provide the offense this team needs.
What Chuck Fletcher can be sure of is that Spurgeon is an incredibly talented defenceman – quite possibly one of the most underrated players in the league. He has already proven himself worthy of a long-term deal. Where that long-term contract will be is still a mystery, but I strongly believe Minnesota will be making a big mistake by letting Spurgeon go.