The Florida Panthers have signed prospect Evan Nause to his three-year entry-level contract, a year after he was selected 56th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. General manager Bill Zito released a short statement:
Evan is a talented young defenseman who has flourished in his two seasons in junior hockey. We’re pleased to have him in our system and are looking forward to watching him continue to develop.
Nause, 19, was a huge part of the Quebec Remparts success this season, scoring 46 points in 59 games while using his long reach to control the game from the back end. When Scott Wheeler of The Athletic detailed the Panthers’ prospect pool earlier this year, he put the QMJHL defenseman seventh, noting that the team had been asking a lot of him in his own end.
That development at the defensive end of the rink will be the key for Neuse, as he likely won’t play a huge offensive role if he makes it to the NHL, even if he is performing well in junior at that end. It does beg the question of whether the Panthers would actually prefer him to be in the AHL this season but since he is still just 19, he isn’t eligible for that.
Luckily, this also means that his entry-level deal won’t kick in this season (unless he somehow makes the Panthers roster out of camp), sliding forward and starting in 2023-24.
Mayhew is one of the most consistent goal-scorers in the minor leagues and actually has a history of scoring at the NHL level as well. In 57 career games he has 13 goals, including five in just 15 contests this season with the Anaheim Ducks. While he shouldn’t be considered an impact player at this point, his addition certainly gives the Panthers a bit of extra scoring punch among their depth options.