Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-24 player reviews, Damon Severson brought experience

Acquired by the Blue Jackets early last summer, Damon Severson found himself in a new home for the first time in his 10-year NHL career.
Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets
Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

One thing we all knew heading into this season: the Blue Jackets needed to be better defensively. Then-GM Jarmo Kekalainen went out and acquired two defensemen to help in that department: Ivan Provorov from the Philadelphia Flyers; and Damon Severson, from the New Jersey Devils.

After spending the first 9 years of his career in New Jersey, Severson was set to be an unrestricted free agent for the first time last summer. But the Jackets, determined to not play out another season with a minor league defense corps, made a move to keep Severson from hitting the market.

In a rare sign-and-trade, the Jackets sent a third round pick to the Devils (#80 overall) for Severson, who was signed to a fresh 8-year contract with an AAV of $6.25 million. That makes him the second-highest paid defenseman in the Blue Jacket organization, behind only Zach Werenski.

Naturally, that meant Severson entered this season with extremely high expectations. It's been a long time since this organization went out and added big name defensemen, so there was a lot of excitement around a (hopefully) improving blue line.

Unfortunately, those expectations were probably too high. His contract has him paid to be a #2/3 defenseman, and in retrospect, that might have been just a little bit too much to ask of Severson with this group.

He had good and bad stretches throughout the season. But, I don't think I watched him at any point and saw enough value to feel comfortable having him paid like a fringe top pairing defenseman.

He struggled defensively, but he was far from the only guy to do that. I think the scheme here was begging for trouble, and that's exactly what we got. They couldn't get out of their defensive zone quickly or cleanly enough to keep pucks out of their own net.

Transitionally and in the offensive zone, he was definitely helpful. And, his calm, experienced demeanor was refreshing. For those reasons, his signing wasn't a complete bust. I just worry about what a contract like this will look like in 3-4 seasons, when he (inevitably) starts slowing down.

Damon Severson 2023-24. C-. Final season stats: 67gp, 9g, 19a, 28pts, -10, 51PiMs, 88SOG. . Damon Severson 2023-24 grade:

He gets a passing grade from me, but only just. For a guy who has played over 700 games in the NHL, I just expected more out of him - especially with the money he's earning.

With that said, maybe I'm being too harsh. This was a tough environment to come into, and it does take time to adjust. He had spent his entire career in New Jersey, so I'm sure coming to Central Ohio was not easy. Maybe a new system and a year of adjustment will help him moving ahead.