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Lou Lamoriello surprised me Sunday afternoon.
Not because he traded veteran defenseman Henrik Tallinder to the Buffalo Sabres
, but rather his comments afterwords.
When the New Jersey Devils President and General Manager spoke to the media after the trade, he made some interesting remarks. Lamoriello said he'd still like to re-sign Marek Zidlicky, but noted that the trading of Tallinder was to clear a roster spot for a young defenseman.
When asked about which defenseman could compete for the vacant spot, Lamoriello listed the usual suspects in Jon Merrill, Eric Gelinas and Alex Urbom. The thing that stood out to me, though, is that he included Damon Severson on that list.
Severson, who doesn't turn 19 until August 7th, had a dominant year in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets this past season. In 71 games, Severson scored 10 times and recorded 52 points while posting a staggering +43 rating. It's also worth noting that he was on for over 24% of Kelowna's goals for and just 5.9% of the goals against. Those margins are incredible.
Once the regular season ended, he continued to put up big numbers as he then tallied 10 points in 11 playoff games.
After his season in Kelowna finished, Severson joined Albany for a couple games to end the season. Not much was expected, the Devils just wanted to take a look at him and see how he could handle himself at the pro level.
It was a small sample size, but he did well. Severson picked up two assists and was +2 in two games with Albany.
Despite being the 60th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Severson has quickly developed into one of the better defense prospects in hockey. Looking back at last year's draft class, there aren't many players, let alone defenseman, I'd take over Severson right now if I had the chance.
Points aren't everything, but it's not a coincidence Severson put up those kind of numbers.
After last year's draft, I reached out to a few WHL scouts who've seen him play several times, and they all raved about his game.
I was told that Severson had all the skills to be a very good NHL defenseman, but that his game was raw and he was still trying to put it all together.
While work still needs to be done, he made great strides doing so this past season, which is why he's been mentioned as a potential candidate to crack the Devils opening night roster.
For the most part the Devils like to give their top prospects at least a couple years to develop after drafting them before throwing them in the fire, and I think this case will be no different.
If Severson comes into camp, plays at a high level and forces himself on the team, I think the Devils will keep him around. Otherwise, it makes sense for the team to go with a more developed defense prospect like Merrill, Gelinas or Urbom. To be clear, I think that's the most likely scenario.
Either way, it'll be a very interesting camp come September. The fact that Severson was even mentioned as a potential candidate for a roster spot says a lot about how good he really is.
I'll have more on this later in the summer.
Note: CHL advanced stats courtesy of McKeensHockey.com.
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