Beyond The Benches

Beyond The Benches w/ New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson

New Jersey Devils rookie defenseman Damon Severson is quickly becoming a household name for hockey fans.  The 20-year-old from Brandon, Manitoba is impressing every person that watches him play.  The Devils are only 10 games into the 2014-15 season, but Severson already has four goals and three assists.

What may be even more impressive is his plus seven +/- rating and his average of over 22 minutes of ice-time time per game.  Those numbers show that not only is Severson effective, but the Devils coaching staff also count on him for important minutes.  Beyond The Benches was able to catch up with Severson after the Devils’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Beyond the Benches: Individually, you are off to a great start.  Did you expect this much success so early into the season?

Damon Severson: I just came into camp, obviously confident and made the team right out of camp. You gain confidence when you’re playing good hockey and sticking with the team.  I’m playing my game and the production is there, as long as I keep that up I can’t complain.

BB: Has this kind of production and goal scoring touch (seven points in 10 games) always been a part of your game?

Severson: Yeah. I was more of a passer in juniors (Kelowna Rockets-WHL). I had more assists than goals but this year it has worked out the other way around. I can do both, I’m not complaining at all but it’s just one of those things that has gone my way a little bit and I’ve been fortunate enough to get a couple of good bounces.

BB: You’re getting some heavy-minutes out there.  Can you tell me what that’s like and the jump from playing against players your age in juniors compared to playing against men in the NHL?

Severson: I think you can’t really pace yourself throughout the game [in the NHL].  Maybe you can pace yourself a little more in juniors. As a guy last year, I could have been playing anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes a night.  Here (In the NHL) it’s above 20 minutes, usually on a nightly basis but you’ve got to go hard every shift.  You can’t take one [shift] off and you can’t take anyone [opponents] for granted. It’s not easy out there and I’ve worked hard to get here. As long as I can keep my pace up I’ll be just fine.

BB: Does the coaching staff want you to gain weight or do they have you training off-ice for anything specifically?

Severson: No, not really.  They were happy with my weight, my height, and everything coming into camp.  They knew what they were getting out of me. I just came in and tried to impress the staff here and I guess I did so (because I am) sticking with the team. Now I just need to keep doing my thing out there.  Just keep learning the little things every game from the coaching staff and veteran players.

BB: Are you surprised that, at this point, there are already reporters talking about you being a candidate for the Calder Trophy (NHL Rookie of the Year).

Severson: (Chuckling) I guess that is a little surprising. I didn’t have any thoughts on that.  Starting the season, for one thing, I was just trying to make a hockey team.  Now that people are talking about it, it’s something that’s always in the back of your head. But I’ve said it before, I’d be excited to accept that award at the end of the year, after a long playoff run.

 

The former Kelowna Rocket (WHL) seems to have the character that Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello looks for in future players.  His mature, yet confident, demeanor make him seem like a veteran; not a rookie who is in his first NHL season.  It is much too early to know whether or not Severson will be a Calder Trophy candidate.  However, he has made his goals clear, which is to win and have that willingness to become a better player every day. The New Jersey Devils are certainly a better hockey team with Severson in the lineup.

 

James Stolfi is a journalist from the New York metro area covering the NHL Metropolitan Division. He can be contacted on Twitter @JamesStolfi