The New Jersey Devils selected Damon Severson with their second round pick, 60th overall, in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Severson is a defenseman who plays for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. According to his prospect card at NHL.com, he's officially listed at 6'2", 200 pounds, he'll turn 18 in August, and he has completed his second full season in the WHL. Here are his stats at Elite Prospects.
As the stats indicate, he's not a nobody, as he's played both in junior and at the international level. Given the pace of the second day of the draft, I'll be updating this post later with more information, video, and an opinion about the pick. In the meantime, here's an expert opinion on Severson by Corey Pronman of the Hockey Prospectus. He ranked him 38th on his top 100.
Severson had a pretty impressive draft season, showing a desirable all-around game. He's a pretty good do-it-all type of prospect, but with an emphasis on his puck-moving skills. He gets regular praise within the industry for his calm demeanor with the puck. He reads the play quickly and effectively, makes a good first pass and has a nice amount of creativity to his game. Severson can control the play on the break out and has the instincts to be a power play quarterback as well. While he gets transition game value from his passing, he's also a solid-average skater who can skate the puck out of his own end and has a pretty good acceleration/agility combo. He has a decent frame for his age and should project to be an average physical player when it is all said and done. Severson has a nice set of intangibles too, which is visible in his physical play. He's a fine defender who can still work on a few things like most players his age as he will have odd brain cramp moments, but he tends to play fine in his own end.
It's certainly a positive profile from Pronman. It's never a bad thing to read that a defenseman is calm with the puck and can do a lot of things well. It may turn out to be that he does a lot of things well but nothing particularly great. However, that's perfectly acceptable for a second round pick, especially a late one. The Devils maybe didn't need another defenseman in the system, but Severson certainly strengthens the pool as the top prospects are now in their early 20s.
After the jump, I have some more information and some video of Damon Severson, the New Jersey Devils' second round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. (Note: This original post went up at 10:32 AM)
A Few More Outside Opinions on Damon Severson
Pronman wasn't the only one rate Severson as a second round caliber prospect. The Scouting Report ranked him as a high as 36 on their Top 100. Here's the description given about Severson.
Severson has been overlooked at times this season, but he may have just as much upside as any defenseman taken out of the WHL in this year’s draft. While struggling at times to find consistency in his game, Severson has shown flashes of a potentially brilliant young defenseman and simply needs to put it all together at this point. Severson plays an all-around solid game, chipping in offense when need be, but also showing a willingness and capability to play in his own end and step up with a hard checking defense style. Severson has a good, hard shot that he gets away with good speed, and is a smart puck mover. With the right development, Damon Severson has top-4 NHL potential written all over him.
TSR is more direct with their opinion of the prospect, noting that there are times where he's seemingly figured it all out and times where he hasn't. Likewise, note some of the adjectives: "solid," "good," and "smart." Again, nothing great, but nothing bad either. A team can't go wrong with a prospect who could be a top-four NHL defenseman late in the second round. Based on this opinion that's exactly what the Devils did.
Andrew Eide wrote up a profile for Severson at The Hockey Writers. Eide's commentary falls in line with what Pronman and TSR has, though he provides some more detail about what he could become at the next level:
Severson is not necessarily a dynamic offensive threat from the blueline but he has a big shot and can chip in. His potential at the next level is more of a defender rather than a big scorer from the blueline. He will be one of the Rockets power play quarterbacks and could see an increase in his production next season. His NHL prospects may hinge on being able to play that shut down game, relax and letting the game come to him. He was recently selected to play for Canada in the U-18 world tournament and held his own against some of the world’s best competition. That can only help his confidence moving forward. So will hearing his name selected by an NHL team this June.
If the big knock on him is that he needs to "let the game to come to him," then it speaks well for the player as a prospect. That, I think, will come with time and the Devils will let him do so at his own pace. That said, the notion about what he projects to be is something Devils fans should keep in mind. Severson may contribute on offense, but he's not an offensive defenseman. He's got some good skills, but not enough to a point where it's the focus point of his game or something experts have been raving about. I would disagree with Eide that he's got to go in the other direction as a defenseman to make it only on the basis that he's still developing as a player. Of course, that's only in theory. That Bob Mand, of NHL Mock Draft, has a similar opinion about Severson may mean there's something to that. Still, I think that's more than fine for 60th overall in the draft.
Lastly, TSN's final draft ranking placed Severson 45th in their top 60. His section notes that other scouting services ranked him around there, with the exception of The Hockey News placing him 65th. Here's what Craig Button had to say about Severson at TSN's website:
Damon has taken a significant step in his play this past season. He is a very good skater who has an effortless stride, is very agile and has quickness which helps him both defensively and offensively. He has very good vision and poise with the puck and he makes very good plays. He has confidence when he has the puck and because his skating is so good, he doesn't have to 'rush' or force things because the space he has gained, is not in danger of being lost. He has an under rated shot that he uses effectively either for tips and deflections or as a rebound opportunity. He has good positioning defensively and uses his body well but isn't a punishing player but is assertive and he does compete. He doesn't shrink under pressure and he has a steady, calm and efficient approach. His confidence will increase as he matures and he certainly shows the potential to be a good NHL player and there may be even more 'untapped' potential as his development progresses.
Again, Severson's good, not necessarily great, and he needs more time to develop. Button clearly liked how he grew in 2011-12. It wouldn't surprise me if the Devils scouts felt the same way. Following that up in 2012-13 with a stronger season would make this pick by the Devils look even better.
A Little Video
For some reason, the easiest videos to find of Severson are clips of him fighting. That doesn't tell us much about the player, especially since some of them are a couple of years old. Instead, I'd rather show you this video of Severson scoring two goals from distance against Portland in the 2012 WHL Playoffs It even includes a play by play broadcaster that manages to out-do Steve Cangelosi's "SCAR."
Severson's "Giddy up and go with a power play goal" was particularly impressive as he did with a wrist shot through traffic. I also like how he came in on the other side to clean up the long rebound for the second goal. I can see why the experts said he's got a good shot. Maybe he'll use it more next season?
Here's a video that Derek Zona of the Copper & Blue took of Severson getting interviewed after being picked in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. You may need to turn up the volume for this one as it's in the media area.
Yep, he does interview like a hockey player. Interestingly, his answer to his biggest strength was "my all-around game." That certainly falls in line with what others have had to say about Severson.
A Final Opinion & Your Take
I really don't have too many complaints about the pick. While it wasn't a big need at prospect, Severson does give the Devils another defenseman in development. If he needs a few years, the Devils will let him have it. There won't be any pressure to bring him up quickly as far as I can tell. As far as the kind of defenseman he is, I'm fine with the fact he's just a solid player. I agree he's not going to be the offensive defender the Devils would probably like to have; but at 60th overall, finding a solid player at all is a good get regardless of the style. If he can continue to grow in Kelowna, then I think it'll make this selection look even better.
That's my opinion on Damon Severson, now I want to know yours. What do you think of the Kelowna defenseman? Are you happy the Devils drafted him in the second round? What are your expectations of Severson now that he's a Devils prospect? Please leave your answers as well as any additional thoughts on the pick and the player in the comments. Thank you for reading.