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Spurgeon Has Quietly Become A Top Defenseman

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Jared Spurgeon's role on the Minnesota Wild is one of the utmost importance, and now it can continue through the year 2021.

Spurgeon signed a four-year contract extension that will kick in next season. Along with Ryan Suter, Marco Scandella, and Jonas Brodin, Spurgeon can be a part of the Wild's blue line through 2020. 

And the way the Wild is trending that is a very good thing.

"I'm really pleased," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. "To get it done in advance, in this system, the more certainty you have with respect to the dollars you're paying your players, it just helps you make future decisions."

Spurgeon has quietly blossomed into one of the NHL's most consistent puck possession-driving defenseman. In a game where controlling play is paramount to winning, Spurgeon is a key ingredient to how the Wild establishes its game.

Since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Spurgeon is 30th among defensemen who have played at least 2,500 minutes in shot-attempts percentage at 52.35. Over that time, no Wild defenseman has driven possession at a higher clip than Spurgeon, while only Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and Jason Pominville, who have played far fewer minutes, have better possession numbers.

Likewise, when Spurgeon is on the ice, the Wild is getting far more scoring chances than it is giving up. Spurgeon has been on the ice for 1,576 scoring chances for and 1,307 against. That differential of plus-269 is 16th among that same group of defensemen to have played at least 2,500 minutes.

All of these numbers paint the picture of a player having a direct, positive impact on the outcomes of games.

"It's a fair market-value contract, and we were able to secure the prime years of Jared's career: years 27 to 30 years of age," Fletcher said. "We're happy with that, we're comfortable with the term, and from Jared's standpoint, coming out of this deal he'll be 30 years old, and maybe poised to sign another deal after this one."

Spurgeon's offensive game continues to progress. He had 26 and 25 points the past two seasons, respectively. At 16 through 31 games this season, Spurgeon is on pace to set new career marks in just about every offensive category. His skating ability allows him to jump into the rush, something he's incorporated more and more into his game.

"The analytics show great possession numbers, they show somebody that we tend to win the shifts whenever he's on the ice," Fletcher said. "But you can just look at his ice time and the way we utilize him, and he's just entering the prime of his career."

And it's the things Spurgeon does with such fluidity that are harder to identify but portend a player having the success Spurgeon does that reflect so well on him. His hockey instincts are keen, allowing him to beat forecheckers to loose pucks. Add in lightning-fast processing skills, and before Spurgeon has a chance to turn the puck over, he's moving it up to a teammate, or skating it out of traffic and to safety.

This contract also is true to the Wild's identity. This is a team that is defense-first. That’s not to say the Wild is immune to goal scoring, but it's a group that generates scoring chances through structured, compact play below its own blue line. 

And those are two characteristics ingrained in Spurgeon's DNA.

"That's the strength of our team," Fletcher said. "We have some good kids coming as well, and it gives us depth, and it may give us the opportunity to look at different options down the road depending on which way we want to go."

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