Evan Nause feels like he took a big step forward last week.
Along with picking up some new skills on and off the ice at development camp, the 19-year-old defenseman signed his three-year entry-level contract with the Panthers on Friday.
“Dev camp has been a blast so far,” Nause said the day before the deal was struck.
Initially selected by the Panthers in the second round (56th overall) of the 2021 NHL Draft, Nause is coming off a breakout season in the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts during which he led the team’s defensemen with a career-high 46 points (eight goals, 38 assists) in 59 games.
In the QMJHL playoffs, he handed out three assists in 12 games.
“The league is very offensive,” Nause said of his first two seasons in the QMJHL. “There are a lot of talented players. The top two lines are amazing. For me, trying to shut those guys down every night is great for my defensive game, and great for my offensive game as well.”
That same competitive attitude was evident at development camp, particularly during a cooking contest that pitted groups of Cats prospects against each other in a test of culinary power.
“I think we got robbed,” Nause smiled. “Our group definitely had the best tacos, that’s for sure.”
From being coached by Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy in juniors to a funny paddleboarding incident during development camp, check out the audio player below to hear more from Nause in the latest edition of the podcast. “Panthers Pipeline” with Doug Plagens and Jameson Olive.