Paul not ready to give up on his NHL dream just yet
When Jason Spezza — or at least a version of the great player he once was — comes to town with the Dallas Stars on Monday, it will be another reminder of the bad trade the Senators made in the summer of 2014.
In return for the second leading scorer in franchise history, a guy who produced 687 points in 686 games, they received three players and a second-round draft pick. Only one of those assets remains with the Senators organization and that’s Nick Paul, who was summoned from Belleville along with Christian Jaros.
Paul has played 36 games for Ottawa during those three seasons, while suiting up in 172 with the team’s AHL affiliate.
Opportunity has knocked for Paul, 23, a number of times, but he’s been unable to answer. You may think his chances of becoming an NHL regular are over, He firmly believes otherwise. “I feel I’m getting better,” said the 6-foot-3, 219-pound winger. “Sometimes, you feel like you just hit that levelling spot, but I haven’t hit that yet. I feel every year I’m getting better and better. I’m pushing myself.”
Last season, Paul had 14 goals and 27 points in 54 games with Belleville.
The belief was that Filip Chlapik would be the first forward to be promoted this season, but Paul was called up when Ryan Dzingel and Alex Formenton went down because he earned it.
“He was great in the exhibition games down there,” said GM Pierre Dorion, “and he was the best forward down there.”
Paul spent the past summer focusing on his speed, explosion, skills in tight and a quicker release. But he was also taught to work on his frame of mind.
“Whenever I start to build up stress I meditate,” he said. “The glass is always half full.”
After Friday’s practice, he looked comfortable in the Senators dressing room. Being in an NHL game, he’ll know what to expect and what’s expected of him.
“I know what it’s like being called up,” Paul said. “The nerves aren’t as bad ... they’re still obviously there, but it’s getting later in my career, I know my window is slowly going shorter and shorter. I’ve got to make sure I come in and have my best day every day. I can’t have days off.”