The Minnesota Wild play their season opener in 20 days. Until that time we will be counting down the 10 most important Wild players for the upcoming season. Thus far, Kevin Fiala came in at number 10. Ryan Donato checked in at number nine and Eric Staal was number eight on the list.
The greatest strength for the Minnesota Wild is their top four defensman. It’s a group compromised by Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon. If this list was the best Wild players, Spurgeon and Dumba would probably be number one and two on that list.
“This team is going to be a gauntlet to play on defense,” Lake Martin of Gone Puck Wild said. “Almost all of the top four would be the best defenseman on any other team, minus the San Jose Sharks with Brett Burns and Erik Karlsson.”
Out of those four, Spurgeon is arguably the best of the bunch. Brett Marshall, the host of the Puckpourri Podcast believes that Spurgeon is the most complete player on the Wild roster.
“He’s the Wild’s most complete player,” Marshall said. “He can play offense, defense, power play and penalty kill. He has a great attitude and is a leader for the team. The eye test will tell you it and the advanced stats will tell you it.”
There is no denying that Spurgeon is one of the most underrated players in the National Hockey League. The fact that he didn’t crack NHL Network’s Top 20 Defenseman countdown further proves that point.
“He’s arguably the most underrated player in the league and is going to cost a pretty penny if the Wild want to hold on to him moving forward,” Dane Mizutani of the Pioneer Press said.
The Athletic’s, Dom Luszczyszyn also believes that Spurgeon is criminally underrated. In his season preview for the Wild he went as far as saying Spurgeon is a top 10 defeseman in the league.
"He’s an unassuming and diminutive defender standing under six feet tall playing exceptional defense in tough minutes on a nightly basis – and doesn’t get nearly the recognition he deserves for it. My model grades him as a top 10 defensemen"
There are not a lot of holes in Spurgeon’s game. He’s one of strongest defenseman in the league and this past season he saw an uptick in his offensive production, as he posted career highs in goals (14), assists (29) and points (43).
“His biggest strength is honestly that he has no weakness,” Mizutani said. “Despite his diminutive stature, he has the ability to serve as the pseudo quarterback on offense, while effortlessly disrupting plays on defense.”
Spurgeon is all out, balls to the wall. He does all the little things that won’t show up in a box score. Martin said that’s what makes Spurgeon special.
“He’s one of the soundest and safest defenseman in the league,” Martin said. “He can occasionally drive play with his incredible skating ability, but typically will focus on keeping the other defenseman ‘safe’. Spurgeon does so many little things that makes his game sneakily elite that it’s absurd.”
There is no denying Spurgeon’s importance to this team. There is also no denying that he is arguably one of the best players on the roster, if not thee best player. However, this is not a countdown of the best players. It’s a countdown of the most important to the team’s success for the upcoming season. The Wild were shutout 11 times last season and finished dead last in scoring. If they are going to get back to the postseason they’ll need more production from players like Jason Zucker, Eric Staal and Zach Parise. The Wild know that Spurgeon will provide them with one of the best defenseman in the league. This season Spurgeon will keep on doing Spurgeon things, while helping push the Wild back into playoff contention. He’ll continue to be the best player on the Wild and hopefully end up with a new contract when all is said and done.