|Photo by Shoot the Breeze - Marissa Baecker|
Hockey Canada released its roster today for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships and Kelowna Rockets defenceman Damon Severson is a piece of the puzzle. The 19 year-old has evolved into a terrific player, but when he was playing bantam hockey in Saskatchewan in advance of the 2009 WHL bantam draft, Severson wasn't mentioned in the same breath by scouts who wanted to get their hands on Derek Pouliot, Griffin Reinhart and Matt Dumba. A quick skating forward named Hunter Shinkaruk was also projected to be a first round selection.
All four were can't miss prospects. All four were taken in the first round in 2009 and are now teammates with Severson on Team Canada.
The Melville minor hockey product was a 9th round pick that May, an afterthought by many at the time. Fast forward four years and Severson is shoulder-to-shoulder with this elite group and will be playing with purpose to earn a gold medal for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Sweden.
Of the 10 WHL players named to Team Canada, eight were either taken in the first round of the WHL draft in 2009 or in the first round in 2010. The only exception is Severson (9th round) and Portland's Taylor Leier (2nd round).
Is Severson the black sheep of the bunch? In 2009 he sure was, which makes his transformation even more impressive. A defenceman taken 192nd overall isn't suppose to evolve into one of the best rearguards in his age group. Funny thing is Severson did.
Were scouts that blind to his abilities as a young player? Severson is proof that even if you are not considered the best player in bantam and you are snubbed until late in the draft, life is not over and your hockey career doesn't have to be flushed down the pooper.
Perseverance pays off.
Damon Severson is the poster boy for that saying on this blustery Monday afternoon.