Severson (Still) Learning on the Job

It’s hard to believe but Damon Severson just completed his third NHL season with the New Jersey Devils and he won’t turn 23-years-old until this upcoming August. While he’s not often mentioned with most of the team’s young and upcoming core, he certainly is part of it as the franchise heads into it’s most important offseason.

With other youngsters like Steven Santini, Miles Wood, Colton White, Blake Speers, John Quenneville, Michael McLeod and plenty of others on the way it will be very interesting to see how, where or if Severson fits into the Devils’ future plans.

“I feel like I’m more engaged, more intense. Just trying to do the best I can and playing defense first, when I have the chance I play to my strengths in the O-zone; doing anything I can just to help the team,” Severson told The Hockey Writers towards the end of the season. “I went through a little bit of a…I guess a few defensive lapses in the middle of the season which were, not fun. I took a few minuses in stats there, but I think overall the year that I’ve had isn’t indicative of that stat. I feel like my offense has always been there, it’s always one of the strong suits of my game.”

Over his three NHL seasons (203 games) his point total has risen (17-21-31), but his penalty minutes in 2016-17 doubled the previous two seasons total and his plus/minus (-31) was by far the worst on New Jersey’s roster and third worst in the entire league.

While he was an offensive dynamo in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and shown flashes of that point-scoring prowess with the Devils, they are going to need a lot more from him if they are to dig themselves out of the basement of the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference.

The Devils and Severson always seem to play well in the majority of games vs. their Metro Rivals and together they need to find a way to duplicate those efforts over the course of a full season against any and every opponent. Although they went 1-3 against the New York Rangers this year, New Jersey avoided the sweep by clipping them in the final meeting, which is when we spoke to the 2012 second round pick.

Damon’s Dilemma

“We came to the rink and knew that they are our rival, and they’ve beaten us every time this year and we wanted to find a way to beat them. No matter whether we are making the playoffs or not those guys are looking like they’re going to have a poised playoff run,” Severson told THW, “and they’re a good team but we know we have good players in here as well, we’re a good team. We just wanted to make sure we played with pride and beat those guys at least once this year.”

Moral victories don’t last that long, and over the final two months, any victory was few and far between for New Jersey. It gives them all a lot to think about and work on as they head into another long summer of preparing for another grinding NHL season. Severson explained to us that he knows there are some things that he will need to get better at as he prepares for his fourth pro season.

“I don’t think strength necessarily, but the game is getting so much faster. Every year guys get faster and stronger. I don’t think I need to work on getting huge muscle, obviously, you train and you build up a little bit of extra muscle for the season but speed for sure. That’s one thing that I’m definitely good at — skating — so I want to take that and use that in the offseason to get ready for another year.”

Less is More or More is Less?

Severson is a very detail oriented player and sometimes may psych himself out with Jedi Mind Tricks (aka thinking too much and not reacting), but he has a strong work ethic and with the proper guidance he still has a great chance to be an impact player at this level.

“Every little thing, I think offensive skills…I know I’m an offensive-minded player, but I still would love to get better in that part of the game and help out my team, even more, that way. And defense is obviously huge, so I don’t think there is one thing I will key on. I think every little thing that I do I think I can get better at.”

Young Vet

As we mentioned earlier although he’s part of the younger group of players on the Devils age-wise, experience-wise he’s often lumped in with the older blueliners. That comfort level helps the 22-year-old with the mental part of the game as he detailed to us.

“I think in my first two years there was a lot more asking questions by me to the older players but I think this year I just associate with them more than learn from them I guess,” he said of his relationship with Andy Greene and Ben Lovejoy, the two elder New Jersey blueliners.

“You’re always learning no matter how old you are — if you’re a rookie or a veteran. I just think I’m more part of the conversation now than picking their brains and asking questions; more just talking about certain plays that can be made. The more years and the more experience you get, you’re more comfortable around the team.”

The Devils hope that he’s even more comfortable once the 2017-18 season begins, and they will need him to take another step forward on and off the ice as they look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.