Flyers: Ellis’ Injury Situation Opens Opportunity for York

There are less than two months until the start of the NHL season for the Philadelphia Flyers and bad news is already rolling out. Head coach John Tortorella believes defenseman Ryan Ellis will miss the start of the 2022-23 season, as he continues to battle with a “multilayered” pelvic injury that kept him out of all but four games last season. The 31-year-old defenseman is entering his 12th season in the NHL and second with the Flyers organization.

“I’ve had several conversations with Ryan Ellis as far as how he’s doing,” Tortorella said. “That’s been an up and down process for him. He’s doing everything he possibly can to get ready for camp, [but] I’m doubtful that’s going to happen.”

“To have an injury like he has, miss training camp, and then be ready for the regular season, I think it’s going to take some time,” he continued. “I don’t want to speak for Ryan, I haven’t spoken to him in a few weeks. But I know it was up and down as far as just what he’s doing right now trying to get himself ready.”

With Ellis likely missing the start of training camp and beyond, the organization is going to have to figure something out fast, but it seems they might already have a solution on the roster. Second-year defenseman Cam York is entering the season with a huge opportunity in front of him and he absolutely needs to take full advantage of it. 

Growth & Development

Since being drafted 14th overall by the Flyers in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, York quickly became one of the top defensive prospects in the organization. Over the course of the last two seasons, he has played a total of 33 games in which he tallied 10 points (3 goals and 7 assists) and averaged 19:05 of ice time. As a young defenseman, he has done everything the team has expected of him up until this point, but it is time for him to take a bigger step forward.

“I think we’re all confident in my abilities and we all know what I can do. Just continuing to progress, have a big summer, and do a lot of good things in June,” said York during his exit interview at the end of last season. “Continue to progress and hopefully become a full-time NHL player, a shutdown defenseman, and a guy that’s playing a lot of minutes and on the power play. I have high expectations. I always have and I’m going to continue to feel that way.”

Cam York, Philadelphia Flyers
Cam York, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With a key player out for the foreseeable future, York needs to take this chance to establish himself as a future top-pairing defenseman in the organization and show everyone why he was drafted in the first round. Opportunities of this kind do not come often, but that does not mean things are going to be easy. Heading into training camp, he will need to do everything possible in order to get better on and off the ice. 

York is fully expected to be on the roster for opening night, but it’s just a matter of who he will be playing with. It is more than likely that he will be on the second or third pairing with veteran Justin Braun or Rasmus Ristolainen. It will all be dependent upon where he fits best into the lineup and who his style of play better matches up with.

What’s Next For Ellis?

Obviously, the path to returning to play has been rough for Ellis, but that does not mean he will never be back. It’s truly difficult to determine how long it will take for him to come back, but the organization is optimistic he will return to the lineup sooner rather than later. The whole process is certainly frustrating, but the problem cannot be solved overnight. 

Related: Tortorella, Hayes Bring Intriguing New Dynamic to Flyers

The pelvic injury Ellis is dealing with is a complex issue that might affect him for the rest of his playing career. In order to prolong it, he needs to be able to find a way to get as healthy as he can without hurting himself further. No one ever wants to see a player go through injury after injury in their career, but by now fans are left wondering how serious the situation truly is the longer he is out.

At this point, he can take as long as he needs if it means the organization gets five full seasons of healthy hockey from him in the near future. While it is most definitely frustrating to have one of the best defensemen on the team sidelined for an unpredictable amount of time, his overall health and well-being are much more important at the end of the day. For the time being, York will have the opportunity to grow and flourish in Ellis’ absence.

Sign up for our regular 'Flyers Newsletter' for all the latest.