The search for a veteran right-handed defenseman to partner with Ivan Provorov on the Flyers’ No. 1 unit might be finally over.
On Saturday, Philadelphia acquired 30-year-old backliner Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Philippe Myers and center Nolan Patrick.
The Flyers have been looking for a player which fits this profile since Matt Niskanen retired at the end of the 2019-20 season.
Ellis is about to enter the third year of an eight-year contract which will pay him an average of $6.25 million through 2026-27.
“Ryan is a veteran right shot defenseman who is highly competitive, logs big minutes and can contribute both on the power play and penalty kill,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “His veteran presence and leadership will positively impact our dressing room. We are very excited to have acquired Ryan today.
Can Ellis possibly fill that role left vacant by the Niskanen retirement?
“Sure,’’ Fletcher said. “They’re a little bit different players but they do have some similarities. “He (Ellis) a competitor, a quality team-first individual. He checks a lot of the same boxes that Niskanen did. They’re both good two-way defensemen.’’
Added Flyers governor Dave Scott: “This is an important, exciting move for our organization. “Ryan Ellis is an experienced, talented defenseman who will make a difference for our team right away.”
Ellis brings 562 games of NHL experience to the Flyers, all of them having come with Nashville over the past 10 seasons. He was drafted by the Predators in the first round (11th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and made his debut in the 2011-12 season following a four-year OHL career with the Windsor Spitfires.
He has averaged over 23 minutes of ice time in each of the past five seasons and has a career plus-minus rating of plus-114; he has never been worse than a minus-2 in a single season over his career. Ellis has also served as an alternate captain for the Predators in three of the last four seasons.
“In our opinion, he’s one of the best passers in the game,’’ Fletcher said in a media conference call. “He’s great in transition and a heavy shot. “He’s been part of the Nashville leadership group for awhile.’’
Ellis appeared in 35 games during the 2020-21 season, posting five goals and 13 assists for 18 points, and added a goal and four assists for five points in six Stanley Cup playoff games.
He averaged 23:46 of ice time per game, which was second on the team behind only Roman Josi. He also averaged over two minutes of ice time per-game on both the power play (2:10) and penalty kill (2:32).
“For us, we think he’s really well-rounded,’’ Fletcher said. “A quality person and someone we feel fortunate to add to our team.’’
A shoulder injury sidelined Ellis for a number of games last season but Fletcher doesn’t sound too concerned.
“We believe he has good hockey ahead of him,’’ Fletcher said. “Certainly he’s a man who plays hard but there’s no reason to think that he can’t (play well into his 30s).’’
Ellis said he was caught a bit off-guard by the deal but sounded pleased to be joining the Flyers.
“I’ve never been through it (a trade) before,’’ Ellis said via a media conference call late Saturday afternoon. “I’m surprised, shocked, but at the same time excited. It’s a new challenge, a new chapter.’’
He said he doesn’t know too much about the team and doesn’t have any personal connections with it.
“You’re well aware of the team, the talent they have,’’ he said. “They’re in the East, we’re in the West and don’t see them a lot. Everything is going to be new for me.’’
Ellis was asked about his expectations for next season but obviously he hasn’t had time to think too much about that.
“I don’t even know what to say,’’ he said with a slight chuckle. “I really just found out an hour ago. Obviously winning is important. That’s the business we’re in.’’
The 2018-19 season was Ellis’ best offensively when he scored seven goals and added 34 assists for 41 points while appearing in all 82 games.
Ellis also has 74 games of playoff experience, including 22 games during the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017. He ranked third on the team in scoring during the 2017 playoffs with 13 points in 22 games, and also led the team with 51 blocked shots.
Internationally, Ellis has won gold medals with Canada on three occasions (2008 Under-18 World Junior Championships, 2009 World Juniors & 2016 World Championships). He also won silver at the World Juniors in 2010 & 2011. In juniors, he led the Windsor Spitfires to back-to-back Memorial Cup Championships (2009 & 2010) and was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Defenseman of the Year and overall CHL Player of the Year for the 2010-11 season.
A 5-foot-10, 180-pound native of Hamilton, Ontario, Ellis has 75 goals and 195 assists for 270 points over his NHL career.
Myers has spent parts of three seasons with the Flyers, recording a total of six goals and 23 assists for 29 points in 115 regular season games. He originally signed with the Flyers as a free agent on Sept. 21, 2015.
Patrick appeared in 197 regular season games for the Flyers over parts of three seasons, recording 30 goals and 40 assists for 70 points in that stretch. After missing all of the 2019-20 season with a migraine disorder, he returned to action last season.
Fletcher wishes both of them the best.
“We certainly weren’t looking to move them,’’ Fletcher said. “Phil is going to be a real good defenseman in this league for a long time and I still believe in Patty. Last year I thought was a step forward for him with his health. I think the production will come as he continues his career.’’
Reply Reply All Forward