Less than an hour after signing the most lucrative contract of his career, a watershed moment for an undersized and overlooked player frequently told he’d never make it in hockey, Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon was on the ice at TRIA Rink participating in the first scrimmage of training camp.
It was quintessential Spurgeon.
Despite skating mostly outside the spotlight, toiling for nine years in the NHL with little fanfare, Spurgeon has become one of the team’s most important players through a stable, savvy style – a reliability that was rewarded Saturday with a seven-year, $53,025,000 million extension that beings next season.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Spurgeon said.
Getting Spurgeon, who was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer after his current four-year, $20.75 million deal expired, signed was a priority for new general manager Bill Guerin.
He reached out to Spurgeon’s agents just two or three days after he was hired, and the two sides started negotiating – this after the team and Spurgeon’s camp had only one previous conversation. Spurgeon was eligible to sign an extension July 1.
The turning point in talks came a couple days ago when Eustace King and Dean Grillo, Spurgeon’s representatives, traveled to the Twin Cities to meet in person with Guerin. What ensued was two, 13-hour days of deliberations.
“When people come into town, it shows how committed they are and how serious they are about staying,” Guerin said. “We were really happy about the whole process and really excited that the whole thing got done.”
This contract gives Spurgeon the highest cap hit ($7,575,000) on the team, surpassing the $7,538,461 average annual value of the 13-year, $98 million deals for winger Zach Parsie and defenseman Ryan Suter. The 29-year-old is also the only player locked up through 2026-27; he’ll be 37 at the deal’s conclusion.
Spurgeon’s contract also includes a no-movement clause before a modified no-trade clause that includes 10 teams he can not be traded to kicks in the final three years, sources said.
“He keeps himself in great shape, he’s an elite skater and when you get a guy that skates as fluently as he does, it definitely helps,” Guerin said. “It gives you more of a comfort level. We’re confident that he’s going to be playing good hockey all the way through this contract.”
Both parties were happy to reach a resolution before the season to eliminate any potential distractions, and Spurgeon said he didn’t think about free agency.
“I wanted to stay here, and we want to win and that’s the main thing,” Spurgeon explained. “When Bill came in, he had a plan in place and what he said hit home for me.”
After getting drafted 156th overall in 2008 and then going unsigned by the Islanders, Spurgeon latched on with the Wild by parlaying a tryout into a contract. He spent only 21 games in the minors before he made his NHL debut and by 2011-12, the 5-9, 166-pound Edmonton native was a full-timer with the club.
Since then, he’s become a mainstay on the blue line – carving out a niche in the top-four as a smooth-skating, heads-up defender who can handle all situations.
That skill set was most prominent last season when Spurgeon established career-highs in goals (14), assists (29), points (43) and games (82).
Overall, through 591 career games, Spurgeon has accumulated 70 goals, 178 assists and 248 points.
“To be in this position, it’s pretty crazy from the first Traverse City camp,” Spurgeon said. “I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Defenseman Matt Dumba was under the weather Saturday and did not skate but is expected back Sunday.