- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are continuing to aggressively remodel their defense, acquiring Damon Severson from the New Jersey Devils in a sign-and-trade that gives the defenseman a new eight-year, $50 million contract, the teams announced Friday.
Severson, 28, signed the contract worth $6.25 million annually with the Devils, who then traded him to the Blue Jackets for a third-round pick (No. 80) in this month’s draft. New Jersey was the only team that could offer Severson, who was a pending free agent, an eight-year contract.
He was expected to be one of the more sought-after free agent defensemen this summer. But much like when the Los Angeles Kings inked Vladislav Gavrikov to a two-year deal earlier in the week, another big name is now off the market.
Severson was drafted 60th overall in 2012 and was the longest-serving Devils player, having played all nine years of his NHL career with New Jersey. He has 263 points in 647 games. Last season, he played 81 games and tallied 33 points in 19:57 per game — the first time his average ice time dipped under 20 minutes in the past five seasons.
“Damon is a versatile defenseman who has great vision, moves the puck extremely well, has good size and can play heavy minutes at both ends of the ice,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “We are excited to have him join the Blue Jackets as he will be a very important part of our blueline for many years to come.”
Now under contract through the 2030-31 season, Severson joins a revamped Blue Jackets defensive corps. Columbus acquired Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov on Tuesday in a three-team trade, and he and Severson join star blueliner Zach Werenski, who was limited by injury to 13 games last season, and promising rookie David Jiricek, who was drafted sixth overall in 2022.
The team is expected to name Mike Babcock as its next head coach by next month after firing Brad Larsen in April following a 62-85-16 record over two seasons.
The pick the Devils acquired is well-traveled: It was originally owned by Calgary, which traded it to Seattle in March 2022; the Kraken then traded it to the Blue Jackets in a deal that sent forward Oliver Bjorkstrand to Seattle in July.
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