When the pandemic cut short the 2019-20 season, defenseman Ivan Provorov was on the way to perhaps the best year of his career, with 13 goals, 36 points and a plus-11.
At the same time, the Flyers finished that truncated campaign a collective plus-35 and seventh in the NHL for goals allowed.
Of course, Provorov flourished due to the presence of partner Matt Niskanen.
It’s generally accepted the Flyers fell all the way to minus-38 last season (last in the NHL) in part because of Niskanen’s retirement.
Which brings us to newly acquired backliner Ryan Ellis, who arrived on Tuesday via a trade with Nashville for defenseman Philippe Myers and forward Nolan Patrick.
Ellis is a career plus-114 player and possesses some of the savvy defensive instincts which made Niskanen so effective.
It’s general manager Chuck Fletcher’s hope this revamped No. 1 defense pairing can move the Flyers back in the right direction toward keeping pucks out of the Philadelphia net.
“I’ll do my best,’’ Ellis said during a media Zoom call on Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to competing with the guys – at this point in my career, all I want to do is win. And this organization has a winning standard along with the expectation to do so. For me, I’m going to play my game and help the team any way I can. Scoring goals, stopping goals. . .whatever it takes to help this team win.’’
No doubt acquiring Ellis is an upgrade and should help the Flyers’ beleaguered penalty kill.
“I just try to do whatever the team needs to win,’’ Ellis said. “Whether it be blocking shots or making defensive plays, up or down. Honestly, I pride myself on being a team-first guy. Whatever it takes to win, hopefully that’s what you’re going to see out of me.’’
Ellis has spent his entire career with Nashville so the move came as a bit of a surprise for the 30-year-old player, who is about to enter just the third year of an eight-year, $50-million contract.
“A little bit of a shock to the system,’’ he admitted. “But nothing but looking forward from here. We’re excited to get there and start a chase for the (Stanley) Cup.’’
Ellis said he had not spoken with Provorov yet but the two are bound to make a connection at some point prior to the season.
Because the two have been playing in different conferences, they don’t get to see a lot of each other on the ice.
“We don’t play them a lot,’’ Ellis said. “I know he (Provorov) is an unbelievable player. He’s got terrific skills, I’ve seen him score some awesome goals on the highlights. But with him in the East and us in the West, I just didn’t see him a lot.’’
Ellis said he has already spoken with five or six players on the Flyers who called to welcome him to the team.
“They were nice enough to reach out after the trade,’’ he said. “Just some basic questions. I’m looking forward to getting there and getting started.’’
>Shoulder injury, what shoulder injury?
There were a number of media reports out of Nashville last season which stated Ellis underwent shoulder surgery, causing him to play in only 35 of the 56-game schedule.
Ellis said he had a significant injury all right, but it was not his shoulder. It was a fractured knuckle. No surgery was involved.
“I don’t know what shoulder you’re talking about,’’ Ellis said in an initial response to a question during the news conference. “I shattered my knuckle last year. So that is what I missed time for. Other than that, I’m good. I’m hungry, healthy, happy and excited to be a member of the Flyers.’’
>Flyers announce preseason schedule
On Tuesday, the Flyers announced their preseason schedule for 2021-22.
The Flyers will play a total of six games, featuring three pairs of home-and-away sets with the New York Islanders, Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins.
Here is the schedule (starting times yet to be determined):
>Sept. 28: New York Islanders (Wells Fargo Center).
>Sept. 30: Boston Bruins (at TD Garden).
>Oct. 2: Washington Capitals (Wells Fargo Center).
>Oct. 4: Boston Bruins (Wells Fargo Center).
>Oct. 5: New York Islanders (at UBS Arena).
>Oct. 8: Washington Capitals (Capital One Arena).