Now that all the Minnesota Wild forwards who played more than a couple of games during the season have been graded, it’s time to move on to the defensemen. Of course, the first one up has to be the captain, Jared Spurgeon. It was a season full of history, but also the first full season of leadership under him after he received the “C” in January of 2021.
that bothered him twice, as it started in November and caused him to miss eight straight games. It came back again in December causing him to miss the Winter Classic and most of the month of January. Surprisingly, while he missed over a month, it ended up being only seven games due to all the shifting from COVID Protocol.It was a very up and down campaign for the Wild with the obvious COVID issues and Spurgeon himself battling two injuries. The first was a lower-body injury
Spurgeon’s second setback was an upper-body injury that came right before the end of the regular season and caused him to miss two games, but he came back in time for the regular-season finale against the Colorado Avalanche. Even though he missed a total of 15 games, all from injury, he put up some quality numbers.
Spurgeon’s Strong Season
It was Spurgeon’s second-best season in terms of points, as he scored 10 goals and assisted on 30 others for 40 points in 65 games. His 30 assists were a career-best while his 10 goals were tied for his fourth-best out of 12 seasons. His assists weren’t the only career-high either, as he contributed 14 of his 40 points on the power play to beat his previous career-best of 13 that he’d done three times in the last seven seasons.
Spurgeon was productive offensively this season but he’s one of the top defensemen the Wild have right alongside Jonas Brodin. His defensive stats were not as great as seasons past, but since his offensive numbers picked up, it was expected his defense may drop a bit. He had 83 blocks throughout the season, which was actually the third-lowest of his career but with the injury problems he had, it’s understandable that he wasn’t able to block as many shots. The same could be said about his 44 hits, as they were towards the bottom of the stats sheet as well.
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The 40 points Spurgeon accumulated earned him the eighth spot overall on the team and he also was in the top-35 amongst defensemen in the league for most points. His 10 goals had him tied for 10th on the team and tied for 23rd in the NHL for defensemen. Finally, his 30 assists had him tied for fifth on the team and tied for 38th overall, as the competition for assists was a little more fierce compared to other stats.
Spurgeon’s Iffy Postseason
While the majority of the players on the Wild struggled in the playoffs, Spurgeon was kind of in the middle. He didn’t play outstanding but he wasn’t at the bottom either. However, he was still one of their most disappointing players due to his lack of offense compared to the regular season and the irresponsible decision that almost got him suspended in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues.
Spurgeon stayed out of the box for most of the season, recording only 10 penalty minutes. However, in the playoffs, he became extremely frustrated at the end of Game 1 and cross-checked Pavel Buchnevich across the ankles. It was a very dangerous play that he did get fined, but surprisingly not suspended for, which was very lucky for the Wild who needed their top defenseman in the lineup.
Spurgeon’s offensive contributions were three assists for three points, again not hugely impressive, but it was better than nothing. He also had nine shots on goal and played his typical 20:33 a game. His defensive stats were a little better, as he had two hits and seven blocked shots in six games played. He also had no giveaways and one takeaway.
Spurgeon’s Final Grade
If Spurgeon’s grade was based simply on his offense during the regular season, he would have an A or even an A+, but it doesn’t work like that. His defensive stats plus his postseason performance have to be included. While he struggled through injuries the majority of the season and into the playoffs, he still managed to pull off a pretty decent season but obviously, it could’ve been better.
After everything, Spurgeon earned a B+, joining many of his other teammates. His grade took a slight hit due to his drop in defense during the regular season but the biggest one was due to his near suspension in the postseason. It may seem like a slight slip-up to most, but since he’s usually the most controlled player the Wild have on their roster, that’s why it was such a bad thing.
As captain, Spurgeon’s held to a higher standard and knew better especially during the playoffs when he’s needed the most. However, his stellar reputation was probably the reason he was given a fine rather than a suspension and still received a Lady Byng nomination. Hopefully, he’s learned his lesson and won’t put his team in that situation in the future. Thankfully, the Wild have their captain locked up for five more seasons, so he’ll have plenty of time to help his team make it to the postseason in the years to come.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.
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