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Minnesota Wild experimenting with Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon pairing. Will it stick?

With the Oct. 13 season opener against the New York Rangers fast approaching, the Wild are expected to finalize their lineup in the coming days.

NHL: Preseason-Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin in action during a preseason game against the Dallas Stars on Sept. 29, 2022, in Dallas.
Jerome Miron / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL -- Looking back at last season, whether it was the odd couple that got united at the trade deadline, or the Swede and Canadian who have grown to become best friends, the Minnesota Wild had quite the cast of characters on their blue line.

You had a pairing that featured 6-foot-3, 220-pound Jake Middleton with 5-foot-9, 165-pound Jared Spurgeon, and a pairing of Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba, who might as well be twins separated at birth.

Though coach Dean Evason has everyone back this season, he has decided to shuffle his lines in training camp. He currently has Brodin paired with Spurgeon, and Middleton paired with Dumba.

NHL: Preseason-Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon reacts after scoring a goal Sept. 29, 2022, against the Dallas Stars in a preseason game.
Jerome Miron / USA Today Sports

With the Oct. 13 season opener against the New York Rangers fast approaching, the Wild are expected to finalize their lineup in the coming days.

“Do we stay like that?” Evason asked himself after Monday’s practice at TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul. “I don’t know.”

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If the Wild decide to keep Brodin with Spurgeon for the foreseeable future, Evason said he likes what he has seen so far.

“It’s a nice pairing,” Evason said. “We think they are two of the best defensemen in the world. It’s easy for us to put them together. We’ll have to make some decisions here.”

The thought process behind putting Brodin with Spurgeon makes sense.

Each player is a shutdown defender in his own right, and in theory, the two of them could be an impenetrable force together. It’s not hard to imagine Brodin and Spurgeon making life miserable for the other team.

“We’ve played on the same team now for 10 years, so we know exactly how we play out there,” Brodin said. “That’s a big thing. I know his skill set and everything, and he probably knows mine. I think we’ll work together.”

Is it weird hopping over the board and not seeing Dumba next to him?

“Maybe a little bit,” Brodin said with a laugh. “We are still together on the same team, right?”

wild-mugs-jonas-brodin
Jonas Brodin
Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports
wild-mugs-jared-spurgeon
Jared Spurgeon
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As for Spurgeon, he noted how easy it has been to play alongside someone with Brodin’s skill set.

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“He does so many things that go unnoticed,” Spurgeon said. “You’re sitting on the bench, or a bit closer to the game, and realize how special of a play that is.”

That will serve the pairing well as Brodin and Spurgeon will likely be asked to shut down the best players on the other team.

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“It’s a fun challenge to have,” Spurgeon said. “It’s competition. When we go out there, obviously there’s going to be some skilled guys and we still have to play our game. Hopefully we’re playing in the offensive zone more than the defensive zone.”

Briefly

After Monday’s practice, the Wild trimmed their roster to 34 players by sending goaltender Jesper Wallstedt, center Sammy Walker, and defensemen Daemon Hunt and Simon Johansson to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. In addition, the Wild also placed winger Joseph Cramarossa and defenseman Joe Hicketts on waivers with hopes of getting them to the minors, as well.

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