Damon Severson was one of the biggest question marks for our New Jersey Devils going into the 2016-17 NHL season. Many were wondering if he would be able to truly step up replace what Adam Larsson had brought to the table in 2015-16 alongside Andy Greene.
It’s a small sample size (as most things are with less than 1/10 of the season gone) but so far, so good for Damon Severson. He 6 points (1 goal and 5 assists) rank 2nd on the Devils behind summer acquisition Taylor Hall. Severson is exceeding my expectations (and probably those of many other fans) at the moment because he is not only playing smart defense (okay, there’s an occasional gaffe here and there) but he is also contributing offensively in a way no other Devils d-man has done this season. Sure we have other defenders with points, and some with a bunch of shots, but Damon is the only one right now who is playing a complete, smart game. Take a look at this video for instance:
While I was unable to find an isolated clip of just his goal, if you fast forward to a minute in, you can see how smart Damon is playing to start the season. Here he pinches into the offensive zone to keep a puck alive which in one way or another is worked back to Kyle Palmieri, who was covering the point. Palms works it over to Andy Greene who slides a pass to Adam Henrique for the one timer. Sevs is still in deep on the play and he quickly skates towards the juicy rebound left by Andrei Vasilevskiy and buries the awkward angle shot for his first of the year.
In my opinion from the eye test, Severson’s defense has been mostly good so far this season too aside from a few mistakes; I’m not even mad because if you watch games from around the league, even the best players make mistakes at times, and Damon hasn’t been making the same one repeatedly. He’s still a very young player as well (having just turned 22 in August) and is working on honing his game to a complete form. I have been happy with the fact that he has looked poised and in control with the puck much like he did before his injury in his rookie season.
One criticism that I have of Severson so far this season may not even really be merited, but I would like to see him getting more pucks on net. So far he has 13 shots in 8 games; for comparison’s sake, Yohann Auvitu has 22 in that same span with less icve time per game. While 13 equates to over a shot per game, I think of all the attempts Damon’s had that have been blocked or completely off target; if he could check his shooting lanes a bit more and make sure he gets the puck on net (his wrister seems to be a better option than his slapper) then we might really be on to something offensively this season.
Again, we only have 8 games to look at so far with our 9th being played tonight down in Florida; while Severson has played excellently so far, we need him to keep up this pace and to step up and grow more and more with each game. While defense has been our team’s hallmark for over 2 decades, if we have anyone who slumps and/or any injuries to key contributors, it could be game over for this year. Severson needs to ensure that he continues to help this team produce, because if we’re good for around 3 goals per game, there’s no doubt in my mind that Cory Schneider can do the rest night in and night out. Damon Severson was a wild card coming into this year; we need him to continue playing like an ace.
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts on Damon Severson’s start to 2016-17; do you think he has played as well as I’ve advertised here? Better? Worse? Do you believe that he will be the force that the defense needs this year? Should Coach John Hynes start using him as an all situations player (he’s usually not out on the PK) with how well he is playing? Leave any and all thoughts below and as always thank you for reading!