Last month our contributors helped compile the Edmonton Oilers Top 10 Prospects list. This month we’ll be looking at each of those ten prospects in depth in reverse order. Goaltending prospect Nick Ellis ranked eighth on our list just ahead of Stuart Skinner. Ellis, 23, was a college free agent that signed with the Oilers in April 2016.
At 6’1″ and 180 pounds, Ellis is on the smaller side for a potential NHL goaltender. Still he had a fairly successful college career and played above expectations in his first pro season last year with the Bakersfield Condors.
|Prospect: Nick Ellis (G)||Height: 6’1”|
|Born: January 18, 1994 (23)||Weight: 180 lbs|
|Birthplace: Millersville, MD||Catches: Left|
|Acquired: Signed in April 2016||Club: Bakersfield Condors (AHL)|
Ellis played his college career with the Providence College and was second fiddle to Calgary prospect Jon Gillies. As the backup to Gillies the pair helped Providence win the NCAA championship in 2014-15. Once Gillies turned pro, Ellis took over the starting job and was largely considered one of the best goalies in college hockey in 2015-16.
Ellis was an honorable mention for the Hockey East All-Star team in 2015-16 and finished his final college season with a 1.80 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in 36 games. Once he turned pro, the 23-year-old showed the development curve wasn’t as long as some predicted. Ellis joined the Condors and played behind Laurent Brossoit until Brossoit was called up to the Oilers full time. He stepped into the Condors’ starting job seamlessly and finished with a 2.69 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 34 games.
Ellis joined the Condors and played behind Laurent Brossoit until Brossoit was called up to the Oilers full time. He stepped into the Condors’ starting job seamlessly and finished with a 2.69 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 34 games. The expectation for 2017-18 is for Ellis to split starts with AHL journeyman Ed Pasquale.
If you’re comparing Ellis to Brossoit, his rookie season was on par with Brossoit’s. They both posted similar save percentages, but Brossoit’s goals-against average was slightly better over a longer sample size of 56 games. Ellis has been described as a highly competitive goalie who’s strong positionally, tracks pucks well and is becoming more technically sound.
Eetu Laurikainen, Zach Nagelvoort, Keven Bouchard, Samu Perhonen, Frans Tuohimaa and Tyler Bunz are several prospects that didn’t pan out. Having Ellis come along has eased the burden of the Oilers failing to acquire adequate goaltending prospects in recent years.
The overall prospect pool has been further strengthened with the additions of Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells. This is the deepest Edmonton’s goaltending prospect system has been in a decade.
Ellis is entering year two of three for his entry-level contract and in all likelihood could be pushing for NHL duty at the end of the deal. The stumbling block is Brossoit and the argument of who has the better upside. Brossoit, 24, has an impressive resume but has yet to solidify himself as a competent NHL backup.
If Ellis can have another strong year and even improve his numbers from last season, he’ll effectively have some real pressure on Brossoit. Remember the Condors were a fairly weak team last season, and there defense has greatly improved over the summer. The support around Ellis should make his job easier this year.
In the long-term Brossoit projects to be the better of the two. Ellis still looks like a future NHL goalie though. The question is if he’s more of a 1A/1B or a backup. Realistically the Oilers will have Cam Talbot under contract for several years. Thus Brossoit and Ellis are both battling for the long-term backup duties in Edmonton.
Expect Ellis to start in the neighborhood of 40-50 games for Bakersfield this season and be the first recall if there are any injuries to either Talbot or Brossoit.