The Blue Jacket back end gained a lot of accountability and respect when the team acquired defenseman Damon Severson from the New Jersey Devils early in the offseason. Signed to an 8-year contract before he even put on a Union Blue sweater, Severson instantly becomes a centerpiece on the blue line for the Jackets. He’ll be on the team; but where does he fit into the defense, and what does he bring?
D Damon Severson
6’2″, 205 pounds
2022-23 stats: 81GP, 7G, 26A, 33Pts, +9, 38PIMs
Acquired: Trade with New Jersey, June 2023
(Originally drafted 2nd round, #60 overall, 2012 NHL Draft)
Contract: $6.25m AAV through 2030-31
Role: Top four defenseman
GM Jarmo Kekalainen has been verbal over the last two off-seasons, talking about how the team’s hemorrhaging goals was not going to fly – and that they wanted to make a push back towards post-season contention. By giving up a third round pick and inking Damon Severson to a max-term deal, he does his part by making the roster more formidable than it was before. After acquiring Severson, Jarmo was quick to point out that he was the #1 free agent target for the Jackets – meaning the team has acquired their #1 target two summers in a row. Now it’s time to see if it pays off.
Severson really does make a lot of sense for the Jackets, checking off nearly every box that this team should have been seeking to fill this summer. He’s a veteran of over 600 NHL games, missing just three games combined over the last three seasons; with good size, skating, and solid in-zone defending. He can chip in a little bit offensively as well, which makes him an all-around solid player for this team; a guy who should be able to play in all situations and give the team a strong 20 minutes each night.
It’s hard to call Damon the long-term solution to play alongside Zach Werenski on the top pair – but he should be capable of filling in that role as needed. He may start the season there, though I think it’s a battle between him, Adam Boqvist, and possibly David Jiricek for playing time in that role. With a new head coach coming in, it’s hard to get a feel for how things might shake down; but all of these guys are contenders for the job. Severson has the advantage of being an experienced veteran, and solid defensive zone player – which might give him the inside track to start the year.
Three keys to success:
- Don’t overthink it. Joining a new team with a hefty new contract means lofty expectations. But in the end, all we need Damon to be is a solid two-way contributor, just like he was in New Jersey.
- Be a leader. With the above in mind, this team is going to be relying on him to make a quick transition and lead the way. He’ll need to settle in quickly and do his job right away.
- Embrace the city. By early accounts, Damon seems really happy to be a Columbus Blue Jacket. We’re happy to have him, and I think he’s going to be that steady, reliable presence on the blue line that this team hasn’t had since trading away David Savard. He’ll be a fan favorite in no time.
Ultimately, I think Damon Severson is ideal for this team’s second pair. He may start the season out on the top pairing alongside Zach Werenski … and may even spend the entire season there. But over time, the hope is that David Jiricek will assume that role, with Severson providing a solid veteran to support the right side. He might be slightly overpaid for that role, but that’s what it takes to get talented, experienced players to help your team. And I think he’ll help this team not only in the short term, but also in the long term. All in all, this is a nice pickup for this team.