Should the Oilers be interested in Jared Spurgeon?

Jared Spurgeon’s name is an interesting entry into the offseason rumour mill. On the one hand, he’s just 25 years old, a right shot and an excellent young player. On the other hand, at 5’9” and 176 pounds, he was the smallest defender in the entire NHL to play more than five games last season.

Would Edmonton be a good fit, or should his size scare them off?

Where This Started

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Spurgeon-to-Edmonton is a possibility that has been discussed by two prominent hockey writers in recent days. The Journal’s Jim Matheson kicked the discussion off in a recent column:

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. 
Would Chiarelli at least entertain that, most likely asking for a sweetener because Yakupov has more cachet as a first overall draft pick? Maybe.

On Saturday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune included a lengthy summary of the possibility in a piece, acknowledging both that the possibility made a level of sense for both teams and that he’d discussed it at length with Matheson over email. He’s careful to frame the discussion as speculative in nature, adding that the Wild might not even be interested in Yakupov. But the key point was his assessment of Spurgeon’s availability:

As I wrote in my end-of-the-year analysis, I think the writing is on the wall that defenseman Jared Spurgeon gets traded this summer or next … I just don’t see how the Wild can make the math work even though the organization has immense respect for the right-shot Spurgeon, one of the team’s best two-way, mobile defensemen.

We can leave the return alone for a moment and focus on the key question: Does Spurgeon make sense for Edmonton?

Does Spurgeon Make Sense for Edmonton?

Yes, I think he does.

Matheson cites Spurgeon’s strong possession numbers and says that Spurgeon is “a better player today than Schultz is.” He’s right on both counts. Spurgeon is the rare 5’9” defenceman who can play top-four minutes for a very good team, as he has for the Wild over the last few years.

Spurgeon is capable against tough competition. Over the last two years, only Ryan Suter is clearly ahead of him on the Wild blue line in terms of level of opponent; he’s neck-and-neck with Jonas Brodin in that category and clear of No. 4 Marco Scandella. Using War-on-Ice.com’s metric (based on the average time on ice of a player’s opponents) Spurgeon has been playing opposition comparable to what Jeff Petry and Mark Fayne played last season.

Spurgeon doesn’t need careful sheltering in terms of where he plays, either. He does start more shifts in the offensive zone than the defensive end (52% to 48% over the last two seasons) but he’s pretty close to break-even in that regard.

The Wild have been exceptional when Spurgeon is on the ice. He leads Minnesota’s blue line in pretty much every shot metric; over the last two seasons the Wild have taken 53.3 percent of all unblocked shot attempts when he’s on the ice. The disparity grows even wider if we look solely at goals; in an average hour with Spurgeon on the ice Minnesota has out-scored its opposition by a 2.58-to-1.86 margin over the last two seasons.

Unsurprisingly, Spurgeon plays on the power play, where he has scored a little less than Justin Schultz, albeit in a primarily second-unit role. The real surprise is that he averaged more than two minutes per game on the penalty kill last season (seven seconds more than Ryan Suter), a penalty kill which just happened to lead the NHL in efficiency. I don’t know if there’s higher praise for a 5’9” defenceman than saying that he’s a core member of the best penalty kill in the league; it says a lot about who Spurgeon is as a player.

Outside of size, Spurgeon does pretty much everything. He makes a good outlet pass and has strong overall skill with the puck. He’s extremely intelligent, both knowing when to pinch offensively and where to be in the defensive end. As one might expect given his size, skating is one of his strengths.

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Spurgeon would be a very strong addition to the Oilers’ blue line and the best two-way defenceman on the roster immediately. Looking at the players on the way on the left side, he’d be a long-term fit, too; a partner like Darnell Nurse or Oscar Klefbom would bring the elements that Spurgeon lacks in terms of size in the crease. Even at 5’9”, it would make a lot of sense for the Oilers to be interested if Minnesota decides it can’t afford him.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

    • Oilers89

      To me this makes sense from an Oiler’s perspective, as ideally Spurgeon gets Schultz’s minutes. I would think that Minny wouldn’t mind getting a player back like Schultz necessarily, but Schultz will also have a decent cap hit… Which is kind of the point of trading Spurgeon (to fit under the cap).

      So to sum up: I would love this trade, I’m sure the Oiler’s would love this trade, but it might not make sense for Minny.

      • Gordie Wayne

        As a Wild fan, I can guarantee you the Wild would not have interest in a D-man as the centerpiece. The Wild would be looking for a scoring forward with upside, hence Yakupov being floated.

        The Wild already have Suter, Brodin and Scandella locked in long-term, Dumba would be the right-shot replacement for Spurgeon, and they have guys coming up in the org (Folin/Olofsson) who they are high on and wouldn’t want to clog the pipeline.

        Of course if they included the 1st round pick…we could be open to it…haha

  • Gordie Wayne

    Small Bad. Give me Mark Fraser. Want see tough grit fight strong. Petry no grit, weak, bad. Theo Peckham? Chara Phaneuf Lucic for Hall McDavid.

    That might have been too far. Point is Oilersnation has too many meatheads these days. The game has changed, and size and toughness are significantly less important than being a competent player. The days of an enforcer targeting someone who isn’t an enforcer are gone. Spurgeon could absolutely help the D. We overate some players so much, and a lot of it revolves around hearsay. Someone on the blog wrote a good article on character last year. If Mess can be a bad egg in Vancouver, then we know the idea of perceived character is weak. We don’t need a big name over 30 dman. We need 27ish year olds and younger who would help the core. Phaneuf and Chara are hinderances before we have a real shot.

    Not to mention, Jeff Petry, the soft 5-6 defensemen, is now a 2-3 in montreal who is lauded for his gritensity.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Do not trade the core. We have enough prospects, picks and cap space to improve the defense without costing us the young core.

    Core8 includes: McDavid, Hopkins, Draisaitl, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Nurse and Klefbom.

    • NJ

      Why the heck would San Jose trade Brent Burns? Seriously.

      It would cost Yakupov. AND Darnell Nurse. AND Shultz. We all want ‘that’ guy. The tough, point producing d man who can play in the west. If we can get one for Yakupov, Chiarelli does that in a second. But the facts are we can’t. Those + + you indicate are significant players.

      The only case I could see for it is if Wilson wants to retool and build through the draft which means the start of that deal is our 16th this year. Probably Yak too. It’s an overpay but we aren’t in a position of strength, we are still in a poor position where we NEED the d man. They neither need Yakupov OR picks…

  • OttawaOiler

    I’d be all for a Jared Spurgeon pick up and would let Yakupov be part of it (even if he’ll wind up scoring 30-40/yr) as long as the Oil bring back a solid draft pick or prospect as well. Remember, part of why Minnesota would be making the trade would be to ease cap space. There is extra motivation on their side.

    I wouldn’t stop there though. I’d send Schultz and the 16th (why it’s important to get another pick/asset from Minny) to Florida for a guy who’s gotten lapped and made redundant by Ekblad in Erik Gudbranson. A right side of Gudbranson, Spurgeon and Fayne looks great to me, especially once Klefbom, Nurse and Marincin are consistently ready on the left side.

  • paul wodehouse

    Stating the obvious criteria for the Oilers as per Chiarelli – we need to be heavier . Spurgeon does not fit that mold even if he were 6 ft. 6 in. .

  • CMG30

    Should we acquire him? If he is cheap but as I said previously don’t sell the farm. Good d-men for cheap if you got a good eye. Let’s get our Tyler Myers or Johnny Boychuck for peanuts, not a player who finishes his checks and can produce. Especially if he was a former 1st overall pick

  • CMG30

    Spurgeon in. Schultz out. I could deal with that. Always depends on the price tag of course but the answer to whether or not they should be interested is yes.

  • SLURVE

    That would be crazy to get another undersize dman like Spurgeon and trade away a Yakupov and or Schultz. Enough already with the undersize dmen like Laleggia etc. What are you all thinking, MATHESON? We are desperate for a dman but do we need to be both stupid and desperate as well?!

      • The Soup Fascist

        I believe Matheson does not have access to the same “information” he did before the regime change. So like many of the other fish wrap hacks, he is now guessing.

        A GM who keeps his cards close to his vest versus leaking it out through his buddies in the media or outright announcing his intentions for all to hear? What a novel concept.

        Grade 1 / Day 2 of GM school, MacT. Are you writing this down?

  • OilersSchmoilers

    I don’t know what Jim has been smoking lately,but he’s off his rocker lately. He was on Stauffers show a week or so ago,and mentioned the Oilers should trade the 16th for Martin Jones or Talbot,simply because they have the first pick as well. This makes no sense,as both goalies are undrafted and unproven. Not to mention how deep this draft is,and no goalie in recent history has been traded for such a high pick. As far as Surgeon goes,in a word NO. Schultz can still turn into something,as he’s young and just hit the 200 game mark that has been mentioned so many times with D men. I’d like to see Schultz under McLellan first,before giving up on him. If we’re targeting a right shot D,I think Gudbranson wouldn’t be a bad risk to take,but I’m hesitant to trade Yakupov for anyone that isn’t proven already. Could Pietrangelo be had from the blues,for the right deal? The Blues are stacked on D,and could use some more firepower up front…

    • wiseguy

      Cory Schneider got traded for an even higher draft pick. I’m concerned about Spurgeon because I don’t know if he play all his minutes with Suter. We don’t have a Suter for him to play with. Pronger made Marc Bergeron a first pairing dman. If someone smarter than me can show stats that he did it all without Suter, I’d be a bigger believer.

        • Gordie Wayne

          He’s paired with Scandella rarely Suter. He’s the smarts of the pairing. He’s constantly calling out to Scandella on the ice. I would like to see how well Scandella plays without him. Love Scandella but I think it’s the duo that makes them so good.

  • OilersSchmoilers

    Why go after Spurgeon when Scandella is the better option for Edmonton? I’m not saying that Scandella is the better player, I’m just saying that a team like Edmonton, who plays in a tough division, and consistently gets physically outmatched, wouldn’t be the best suitor for a 5’8 defenseman who’s been sheltered on a deep blue line for his entire career.

    • Gordie Wayne

      Spurgeon has literally been the opposite of “sheltered”. As a 22-yr old, he played 70 games, scored 23pts and was a -4 playing 21+ minutes of ice time on a horrific blue line and a very mediocre team in general.

      His Defense mates that year:
      Zidlicky, Zanon, Stoner, Nick Schultz, Scandella, Prosser, Lundin, Genoway, Fredheim, Kurtis Foster, Falk, Cuma and Tom Gilbert (who we got for Nick Schultz).

      Schultz was a -10 in 19 TOI with Minny. Zidlicky (who was also traded, was a -6 in 20 mins of TOI.

      Our offensive leaders that year?
      Dany Heatley (24 G, 29 A)
      Kyle frickin’ Brodziak (22 G, 22 A) playing top line C minutes…
      Devin Setoguchi (36 pts)
      Cal Clutterbuck (27 pts)
      Matt Cullen (35 pts)
      Koivu missed 27 games and had 44 pts in 55.
      NICK JOHNSON scored 26 pts!! he was our 7th leading scorer!! Look him up…WHO?
      And Spurgeon, as a D-man, scored 23 pts, good for 8th on the team.

      He also was a -4. His TOI comparables on defense?
      Scandella (-22)
      Gilbert (-5 in 20 games)
      Zidlicky (-6)
      Schultz (-10)
      Falk (-13)
      Prosser (-17)

      Only Stoner was a plus player that season out of D-men who played more than 50 games, and that was because he was playing against 3/4th lines. Spurgeon was playing top pair minutes every night.

      He was 22.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Oilernation. Spurgeon is a SOLID 2nd pairing D man. The Oilers have Fayne/Klefbom currently as capable top 4 D men. Thats it. So shoudl the Oilers be intrested in Spurgeon? Hell yah they should. It would mean the flexibility to punt out Ference/Nikitin/ or Schultz in the process.

    The only question is at what cost? It’s all about making good bets. 16th overall for a ready to play 2nd pair D man is maybe a slight overpay.. but if it is, it’s not by much. Yakupov for Spurgeon is a bad bet only because we dont quite know what his ceiling is yet. However, if the ask was Schultz + the 2nd round pick… Then you run to make that trade. Minny isnt that out to lunch though.

  • BigMcD

    The problem with Spurgeon is that first of all we need a #1 defenseman.
    If we don’t have that#1 guy everyone will still be playing 2 spots up higher than they should.
    The problems will still exist until we get a horse on defense

  • Gordie Wayne

    Wild fan here. I don’t know why Russo thinks he knows so much but they will not trade Spurgeon. He is the core of our D. He has great hockey smarts that pushes the rest of our D.He’s very vocal out on the ice. The chemistry speaks volumes. We don’t need to trade him for a scorer we have that. Unfortunately,they just didn’t get it done. Fletcher (GM) said he’s planning to make very few changes. Russo says it makes sense because of the salary cap but he’s got one more year and who knows if there is even a market for him. He may stay for a team friendly deal for the simple fact he likes it here. You’re always taking a chance when you get moved that the chemistry won’t be there or you turned out not to be a good fit after all. very few teams will be willing to pick him up because of his size. Dumba is not ready to take over his position. He’s still makes too many mistakes out there. (He’ll get there though then look out!) Spurgeon will be a future veteran to teach our young D men. He’s too valuable of asset to trade. Fletcher will figure out the cap issue but Spurgeon won’t be leaving!

  • Gordie Wayne

    Plus he’s Yeo’s boy. He was drafted by the Islanders but never offered a pro contract. He got invited to Wild training camp and played for the Houston Aero’s when Yeo was coaching. Yeo coached him and realized he had exceptional hockey smarts and played exactly how the coaches wanted him to (unlike Haula and we know where he ended up.) If Yeo has any say and I’m sure he does…Spurgy is here long term.

    • Gordie Wayne

      I’m not sure that will make much difference. Everyone loves Spurgeon…but I doubt the money will make sense considering how much they have tied up in Suter/brodin/Scandella and how much they like Dumba/Folin/Olofsson.

      Sucks, because I think Spurgeon has a chance to be a Rafalski-type mainstay d-man. But I think Brodin/Scandella/Dumba all have that going for them as well. Something has to give.