After months of waiting for an update on a key member of the Philadelphia Flyers, fans might finally have an answer as to when defenseman Ryan Ellis might return. Unfortunately for Flyers fans, that answer might not be what they wanted to hear. Ellis was traded to Philadelphia this offseason in a deal that sent Nolan Patrick and Phil Myers to the Nashville Predators in exchange for the proven veteran defenseman.
Ellis impressed as he played the first three games of the season and recorded a point per game, but he went down with a lingering injury that would keep him out for a month. He returned for one game against the Dallas Stars on Nov. 16th but has not played a game since. Very little information about the “lower-body injury,” which is believed to be the hip/groin area, has been given out by the team up until this point.
Related: Flyers’ Ryan Ellis Still Hampered by Lingering Injury
About a month ago, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher gave some insight into the decision on whether Ellis would undergo surgery. The team was hoping to avoid this situation altogether, but they know they need to keep his health as first priority.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to do,” Fletcher said. “If Ryan does have surgery, whether it was two months ago or now, it’ll knock him out for the season. We’ve been trying to avoid surgery and look at different ways of rehabbing and treatment to allow him to play.
“We’re starting to get to a point in the year, though, where obviously his health is first and foremost, and the second issue would be making sure he’s ready for next year. We’re getting close to that point.”
Ellis Out for Remainder of Season?
With just under 30 games left in the 2021-22 NHL season, it’s starting to look like Ellis will miss the remainder of the season. Losing him for the season is certainly not ideal, but he has already missed all but four games this year. The Flyers officially gave an update on their star defenseman as interim coach Mike Yeo spoke about the situation following practice Tuesday afternoon.
“Obviously, we’re getting to the point in the season where it’s looking less likely that he’ll play,” said Yeo. “But nothing has been fully determined yet.”
“I don’t know if he skated in the last few days,” he said. “When he last was on the ice, I don’t even know if I’d really call it skating with what he was doing. He was just kind of there on skates, sort of gliding around. He certainly wasn’t pushing himself to any point where we would think he’s a possibility to return any time soon.”
Now that the picture has become more clear for the organization, losing Ellis for the remainder of the season will not be surprising at this point. They have already played without him for all but four games and have struggled greatly, but they’ve done what they needed to do to fill in for him. His absence has allowed prospects Cam York and Egor Zamula to make their debuts and get a taste of the NHL.
Looking Forward to Next Season
If Ellis is out for the remainder of the season, the Flyers will have to hope he is fully healthy by the start of 2022-23. Even if he requires surgery, he will have a full five months to rest and rehab coming into the new season. The team desperately needs him to be fully healthy on the back end as he is an all-around skilled defenseman.
Ivan Provorov and Ellis developed a unique relationship in their short time together this past season. Provorov flourished under his wing as the pair ate minutes and stunned opposing teams in the first three games of the season. Following the injury, Provorov took on the brunt of the responsibility, which has proven to be a challenge but proves he learned a lot during their short time together.
“It looked like they had the ability to have good chemistry,” Fletcher said. “He’s an all-situation player — he plays power play, penalty kill, he plays late in a game when you’re up a goal, late in a game when you’re down a goal. He’s an impactful player when healthy and playing to his ability. We’ll have to use the limited viewings that we had of he and Provy to sort of guide us for what we think they can bring next year.”
Fortunately for the Flyers, Ellis and Provorov are under contract for the next handful of seasons, so that chemistry will continue to build over the years. There is nothing more that Flyers fans want than a successful group of defensemen, especially when they play in front of franchise goaltender Carter Hart. For the first time in years, the Flyers might have all the pieces they need to put up a strong defensive effort consistently.