Prospect Report: Evan Nause
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Evan Nause is primed to have a big draft season. The 6’2, 185 pound White Rock, BC native spent this past year with the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL, where he cemented himself as a top defensive prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft. In 44 games, Nause scored 3 goals and assisted on 14 others, for 17 points. However, those point totals don’t reflect Nause’s skill level at all. His Sioux Falls team wasn’t great, and he wasn’t playing top minutes until the latter half of the season. This year, Nause is joining a rebuilding Québec Remparts team, and will have a very good chance to be their number one defenseman.
Nause’s skating ability is exactly what NHL teams look for in a defensemen. His edge work and agility are elite, and the only thing he’s missing is high end speed. He’s the kind of player who can beat you coast to coast using deceptive edge work and crossovers, as opposed to pure speed. There’s no glaring technical flaws in his stride, which gives me promise that a few more years of power skating will turn him into a real burner. Looking into his stats, he’s already used heavily as a breakout/entry option. This past season, he averaged nearly 5 successful breakouts per game, and at least 2 controlled entries. Here’s one of the better examples of Nause’s (#20 in white) straight line skating ability:
Now, check out his edges:
That’s merciless. His quick feet also aid him in walking the line on offense, and getting shots off quickly:
His skating also helps him win races to keep pucks in, leading to scoring chances:
With Nause, I see an already fantastic skater who has the potential to add another couple gears.
Nause’s puck skills are just alright. His passing however, is fantastic. I’ll elaborate on that and more in the vision category.
Nause’s shot isn’t anything to write home about. He’s got a nice wrister, but that’s about it. He’s not a volume shooter at all, averaging just under 3 shot attempts per game. And when he does shoot, it’s not always to score. Nause is very smart about shooting for rebounds when he doesn’t have a great passing lane or scoring chance, and it often leads to easy goals for his teammates. It’s very safe to say that he isn’t the next Shea Weber.
Nause sees the incredibly well. He’s more offense oriented than defense, and will take risks to make plays. He often steps up into the neutral zone, or pinches in the offensive zone, and he’s really good at it. Watch him come out of nowhere and instantly create something:
And watch here how he refuses to give up on the offensive possession, taking the puck away and setting up his teammate perfectly:
Sometimes it’s more subtle, like this:
He jumped up into the play before it could develop. He didn’t do anything fancy, but it led to a goal.
As for his passing ability, it’s near elite. This past season, he had a mind boggling 85% passing percentage at all strengths. Nause delivers hard, accurate passes to his teammates with consistency, and doesn’t think twice before making them. He processes the game quickly, and once he identifies a target, the puck is gone. Look at this little outlet pass:
A quick stickhandle and then a bullet pass directly on the tape, he barely even looked. He’ll also pull you out of your seat from time to time:
I know it’s obviously not the most exciting part of that clip, but the first stretch pass made by Nause there was noteworthy.
His vision, processing speed, passing ability, and skating ability all combine into one enticing offensive package from the back end.
Here comes the shocker. Nause is an offense oriented defenseman who’s…….. really really good at defense? He averaged nearly 9 (!!) takeaways per game this past season, and won 57% of his overall challenges. On the second lowest scoring team in the USHL, Nause somehow managed to end the season as a +16. He’s an engaged and aggressive defender who’s committed to closing gaps as quickly as possible. Sometimes his aggressive nature can get him into trouble, as he’ll completely commit one way, leaving a wide open lane where he once was. In addition, he can get caught puck watching sometimes and have someone slip behind him, but that’s it when it comes to wrinkles in his defensive game. He’s got a great, active stick, and will use it to deny entries, like this:
In this next clip, he comes across from the left side, quickly pins the forward, and makes an outlet pass before anyone can touch him:
When Nause breaks up a play, he can turn it the other way so quickly, and that type of transition game is like gold in the NHL when it comes to defensemen:
This next clip is probably the best example of Nause, in a snapshot:
He breaks up the entry, immediately makes a little outlet pass, joins the rush, and somehow is able to process that situation fast enough to see his teammate coming from behind him, and actually execute the one handed pass. If you watch it again, after he joins the rush you can see his head swivel back and forth, seeing where everyone on the ice was. That’s how he knew there would be someone there. It’s like the old saying goes, “the best defense is good offense”. Nause has it all.
Physicality is a big part of Nause’s defensive game. His top tendency for shutting down entries is to corral the puck carrier towards the boards and crunch them up against the glass, leaving the puck free for his partner to pick up:
He’s actually quite aggressive in all three zones, and uses his size to the fullest extent. He’ll occasionally step up into the neutral zone to lay someone out, or even just drop someone in the ozone for no reason:
That probably should have been a penalty, but that’s the point. He’s not just a skilled two-way defenseman, he’s a skilled two-way defenseman with an edge.
Nause is already the best defenseman on the Remparts by a mile, and will play a huge role in the Q this season. At this point, I have him pegged as a mid-late first round pick, but he's exactly the kind of defenseman that teams reach on. He's got that rare package of size, skating ability, and skill, and I can't wait to see what he does in the Q this year.
Thanks for reading!