When it came to a contract for restricted free agent Damon Severson, Ray Shero only saw two options on the table.
A) Sign a two year bridge deal, watch Severson blossom and have to pay him eight or nine million a season.
B) Sign a six year contract that buys out all the arbitration years, and two years of unrestricted free agency and hope Severson develops into a top two defenseman.
When Severson was willing to take the second option, Shero didn’t hesitate and got the defenseman to put pen to paper and get ready for the upcoming season.
The Devils GM made it very clear that getting a deal for Severson was always going to be easy, only because the market for defenseman has been set for years. Shero also touched on whether or not there were more cap strapped teams to take advantage of.
How excited are you Ray to get this deal done, and have it be a long term deal?
Ray Shero: I think it’s something that we’ve been working on for a while, but the market is relatively set for those younger defenseman it seems. But again, you’re always coming off a three year deal for these younger players. After one more year he would have arbitration rights, in four years he’d be unrestricted so that’s the balance. It’s usually easier to do a two year bridge deal, or a longer term deal.
We got the right structure we wanted and I could have gone either way (in contract length) but I was always willing to do a longer term deal with Damon because he’s got good skill, really good skater, good hands.
He’s 22, 23 years old and it’s going to take defenseman some time to get to where they’re going to be, but he’s played 200 games in the league at a young age and like our team, we’ve got to develop and get better and he’s a big part of that.
It’s going to be up to him and our coaching staff to get him to the next level for us to be a good team and for him to be the best player he can be.
What do you hope to see in terms of development for Damon this season and beyond?
RS: I think he’s got the skill and the talent, but much like our team, he’s got to be much more competitive. He has to play in a lot of different situations and certainly defensively our team as a whole needs to be better defensively.
It’s no different for any player, you’re developing a younger guy in this case, and you hope that when he’s 23, he’ll be better than at 21, or at 25, be better than he was at 23 and so on and so forth. He’s a real good kid, he wants to get better and he’s put time in to do that.
But the way the market is in the National Hockey League we had a few different options to do here and at the end, the longer term deal made more sense to us. I’m happy for Damon and hope to see him continue to become a better player and obviously starting at training camp, but also the next few years to be where he needs to be.
When it goes the right way (the development) it’s nice to see how the player develops and that becomes an important factor for a team that becomes a playoff team and that’s what you need, to get those players making that step because being a hockey player and putting up points is fine, but, you’ve got to develop into a real good player for us to be a playoff team. I’m looking forward to working with Damon, he’s a good kid and a good player.
That six year 25 million dollar contract sure sounded familiar, and that’s because it was the same deal you gave to Adam Larsson. Is that the contract comparable you looked at for Damon?
RS: You think I would have learned, honestly!
But you’re not trading Damon any time soon, I suppose?
RS: Well my plan wasn’t to trade Adam either. There was never any intent there. What you’re doing is securing an asset where before it was Adam and this time it’s Damon, you’re trying to build something on the blue line with players like Damon.
Lets say on the development end, but as I said earlier, that’s kind of the market with these younger players like Klefbom and Brodin and that’s what it is. I think defenseman when they’re on a second contract or a third contract or if an agent calls me and says hey I got a defenseman, I say how much do you want for him and he says three million so I just say really, how bad is he? Three million? Who makes three million that’s good?
That’s just the market for younger players and they don’t have to be defenseman, the market is just set. Even then you look at Adam Larsson, I talked to JP Barry and it only took about an hour at the end of the day, I mean the market is there, either you want to do shorter term, longer term.
Obviously this is the exact same as Adam’s and it’s structured in a way that’s good for me which I like, nothing to do with the lockout years, nothing like that. I didn’t do it for Kyle Palmieri, I didn’t do it for Adam Larsson, not Damon. That has been established so when it got down to it, it was time to make a deal and Steve Pellegrini did a great job on our end with Jason Davidson his (Severson’s) agent. That’s what I said a couple days ago that it’s time to make a deal so I said let’s make a deal here and I’m looking forward to having him back.
Do you have any coals in the fire for any other moves prior to training camp?
RS: I was talking about this earlier with Jason (Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill) and everything seems to be real quiet right now, everyone is getting ready for camp and everybody’s got to play six or seven exhibition games and you need your depth. Some teams have some injuries like we do with Zajac or Anaheim’s got Vatanen out for a while, everybody’s got something.
Las Vegas eleven defenseman, George (Vegas GM George McPhee) is going to play it out and see what happens, but it’s that time to keep an eye out on everything and start getting in touch with people so, we’ll see what happens during the course of training camp and certainly before the start of the year where everybody has got to be cap compliant so that’s when it’ll be interesting.