Damon Severson: Trade Bait or Important Depth for New Jersey Devils?

New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson (28): Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson (28): Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Life’s not fair. It’s just like Alanis Morissette said in her most famous song “Ironic.”

"Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on youWhen you think everything’s okay and everything’s going rightAnd life has a funny way of helping you out whenYou think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows upIn your face"

Damon Severson is dealing with this right now. He’s dealt with the worst of stretches in New Jersey Devils franchise history. He signed a very team-friendly deal in 2017, which is coming to an end this offseason. There was talk that the Devils broached the topic of an extension with him last offseason, but those talks clearly didn’t go far.

The Devils eventually traded for John Marino. The former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman is signed through 2027. He’s only 25 years old and plays the same position as Severson.

So, the player who stepped up when Dougie Hamilton got hurt last season and couldn’t live up to his $9 million contract is now on the third line. The player who took the first-line role when P.K. Subban clearly lost three steps is now paired with Brendan Smith. The player who has been with this franchise since they drafted him in the second round in 2012 is now sitting here when the team is finally good with no way to stick around.

The Devils now have to decide what to do with Severson. They have him playing around 15 minutes per game when he is on the third line. However, he has some serious shoes to fill when Marino is out or Hamilton is having a rough night. He’s had plenty of games with north of 23 minutes, which is why he is still averaging 20:21 of ice time every night. It’s the lowest ice time he’s seen since 2017-18.

Looking at the trade the Boston Bruins just made with the Washington Capitals shows what a good defenseman could get in a trade. Severson has the enviable position of only costing $4.16 million against the salary cap. Teams will line up to add him to the playoff race. Obviously, the Devils won’t want to trade him to an Eastern Conference team, because they could face him in the playoffs. They might be willing to take that chance if he’s going to a Western Conference team.

However, it might not be worth even broaching the subject. We just saw what happens if someone gets injured. John Marino was out for a few weeks. Dougie Hamilton got hurt last year. One injury on the right side could take an advantage and make it a disadvantage overnight.

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This is the decision facing Tom Fitzgerald. Should he get the most out of the asset Damon Severson before he becomes a free agent, or do they want to keep him for the stretch run? It’s a hard decision where there is no right decision. Both have their disadvantages. Let’s see how this goes, but at the end of the day, for a guy who’s played 622 games for the Devils, to be on his way out when the team looks like a real contender is just ironic, don’t ya think?