The New Jersey Devils are going into this offseason with six unrestricted free agents and eight restricted free agents, seven of which are arbitration eligible. It’s going to be a busy offseason for Tom Fitzgerald. That is then, and the playoff push is now.
One player who’s supremely focused on the playoff push is Damon Severson. The longest-tenured Devils player has seen four playoff games in nine seasons. He has yet to score a playoff point, and he didn’t even play the full series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. It’s been a rough go for Severson, who is now on the third line for the Devils behind Dougie Hamilton and John Marino.
Severson has placed the team on his back on multiple occasions. Now, he’s clinched the postseason just for the second time in his career.
However, Severson has more to think about. He’s in the last year of a six-year contract he signed when he was just 22 years old. Now, he’s going into the offseason a major free agent. Many thought he would be one of the top free agents on the market, but now that the dust has settled, it’s pretty ridiculous how much better than the rest he might be; especially the defensemen.
Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff put out his top 50 free agents list. Ryan Graves was on the list at 15. Tomas Tatar fell all the way to 34 for some reason. Erik Haula is down at number 45. Severson? He’s number TWO.
Seravalli said on Twitter he could see Severson being the most coveted free agent on the market with the biggest price tag. That seems preposterous. This is a market with Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jonathan Toews and Ryan O’Reilly. However, there is something going in Severson’s favor. The defensemen free agent pool is weak.
Dmitry Orlov is the next-best defenseman in the free-agent pool. He’s…fine. He got the Washington Capitals a first-round pick at the NHL Trade Deadline, but only after they did some cap gymnastics and added Garnet Hathaway. Ryan Graves isn’t too far down the list because this class is weak.
Severson is going to get paid a ton this offseason. And that’s why this is his last season with New Jersey. With Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier due for extensions, there’s no way the Devils can afford to pay Severson what he desires. Even if he takes a hometown discount, that will still cost around $6 million per season. Someone might pay him $8 million.
It will be an insane offseason, but before that, let’s make memories with Severson before he leaves. He’s playing well statistically, and he might be Luke Hughes’ first-ever dance partner. However, he will be far from his last because of his contract situation.