It’s one goal down, more to go, for Nick Paul.
After signing a two-year deal with the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, Paul secured the first multi-year contract of his NHL career.
“This was a goal of mine. I hit this goal but now it’s onto the next goal,” Paul said. “The mindset is still hungry.”
Yet, he can also take a moment to pause and appreciate what his new contract means to him.
“I’m excited to be here for two years,” Paul said. “I love Ottawa. To put the work in and to sign a contract and have them have the faith that they have in me and the confidence, it’s really nice.
“My girlfriend and I just bought a house here so to know we have two years here is awesome. We want to call this home.”
In his young NHL career, Ottawa has been home for Paul. All of his 112 career NHL games have come with the Sens, although exactly half of them came last season where he potted nine goals and 20 points.
The reward of a two-year extension at the end of it comes thoroughly earned. Acquired as one of the centerpieces of the Sens’ trade of Jason Spezza to Dallas in 2014, Paul started the 2019-20 season in Belleville. After putting up an AHL career-best 39 points in 43 games the year before, Paul found his footing quickly in Belleville again, notching a goal and three assists in three games.
It was the final AHL games he’d play.
“The staff in the AHL, and Troy Mann, showed so much confidence in me and being on my side and helped me play a couple of good games,” Paul said. “I got a shot back up and I knew exactly what I was going to do and play any role D.J. really wanted me to do.”
With the start date of the 2020-21 season tentatively scheduled for Jan. 1, Paul can head into training camp without questions over his immediate long-term status looming. He also heads into camp with a wealth of experience at the age of just 24, especially when it comes to bridging the gap to jump from the AHL to the NHL permanently.
“It’s hard to say I’m veteran when you look at the stats and how long I’ve been with the team and the average age, but I’m an older guy that knows what it takes,” Paul said.
“For the guys going up and down, I’m there for them to show guidance and show them day in and day out the work ethic to be a full-time player. I know how tough it is. You can get lost in that process so I want to be that guy that the young guys can come to and ask questions and hopefully give them some information that helps them.”
By the time the Sens hit the ice again for the 2020-21 season, it’ll be just shy of a full year since Paul and his teammates were last in action.
But they’re going to be a vastly different team to the one that last hit the ice on March 11.
“We’ve got a lot of new players, a lot of prospects coming in. We’re shaping up to be a really good team so I’m excited to see where these years take us.
“Hopefully I can keep spending years with the Sens and showing them that I’m willing to grow and be an asset to the team.”