New Jersey Devils: What Legacy Did Damon Severson Leave Behind?

New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson (28): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson (28): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils had to make a lot of hard decisions this offseason. They said goodbye to a lot of good players, including Damon Severson. He was by far the Devils most tenured player. He joined the organization when they drafted him in the second round of the 2012 NHL Draft. Severson made the NHL roster in 2014 after positive growth in development camp and training camp.

Now, nine years after first cracking the roster, the Devils will go into the season without Severson in the lineup. The writing was on the wall last season when the Devils traded for John Marino (who has a contract signed through 2027) and drafted Simon Nemec with the second-overall pick. Severson was clearly the odd man out, and then he signed an eight-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Now that he’s gone, it has us thinking of his legacy. He made the 50 Greatest Devils of All Time list, finishing his Devils career at 41. He had some decent numbers, playing the essential offensive defenseman role for most of his time in New Jersey.

It’s no secret that Severson has been the pinata of the Devils roster for a few seasons. We’re not saying Severson was above criticism. His mistakes were frustrating and very often left his goalie out to dry. However, fans talked about Severson like he was a negative contributor to the team, and that just wasn’t true. He was often placed in a position he wasn’t suited for, and he didn’t always excel at it. That’s not his fault since he was just trying to compensate for what the Devils lacked.

It is his fault he made the mistakes he did. He forced too many passes, was in the wrong position too often, and struggled with decisions on the fly. Did he deserve the hate that came with those decisions? It was probably a little much.

When Severson returns to the Prudential Center on Friday, November 24th, what will be the response from the crowd when the Devils play his tribute video? He didn’t leave on bad terms. In fact, the Devils traded his rights to Columbus so they could give him an extra year. He left on a good note, being part of a team that broke a playoff drought and beat the Rangers in the playoffs.

Severson’s legacy should be similar to the one left by Travis Zajac. Zajac was also once the sacrificial lamb. Then, he regained his legacy late in his career, transitioning to a defensive center on the third line who could stop superstars on the other team. When his career ended, he was given a standing ovation. Severson is different since Zajac was in New Jersey much longer, but they had a similar trajectory.

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We hope Severson is looked upon positively by Devils fans. There was no way he was getting that contract in New Jersey, and he brought a third-round pick that helped the Devils get Tyler Toffoli. There should be nothing but love when he returns, at least before puck drop.