Flyers Lack Options to Replace Ryan Ellis Long-Term

Unfortunate injury news has struck the Philadelphia Flyers lineup as defenseman Ryan Ellis is now considered week-to-week after aggravating a previous injury that sidelined him for most of the season. Ellis joined the Flyers this offseason after being acquired from Nashville, but he’s only played four games for the team due to the lingering injury. He returned to the lineup for Saturday evening’s game against the Dallas Stars, in which he recorded an assist during 18 minutes played.

The injury to Ellis is a huge blow to the Flyers’ back end, as he was expected to be part of the top defensive pair with Ivan Provorov throughout this season. He recorded a point in each of the four games (1G,4A) he played in, all while averaging close to 30 minutes a game. While the Flyers have been able to win games without him so far, things will become tougher down the stretch as the season progresses.

Ryan Ellis, Philadelphia Flyers
Ryan Ellis, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“It’s definitely tough mentally for him. As a team, we’ll be able to adjust, and we’ll try to support him. Hopefully, it’s not that long, but I think this time he should take all the time that he needs and come out when he’s ready.” Ivan Provorov said following the news of the injury. 

What Went Wrong for Ellis?

Everything seemed fine following Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. In a game in which he led all defensemen in minutes after the first period, Ellis played decently well until the final whistle. He met with the media after the game to discuss how the game went and what it was like to get back out there with the team, which was nothing out of the ordinary following a tough game. There were no indications that he was re-injured during the game, so the news was sort of shocking.

Between the end of the game and practice Monday morning, things apparently went very wrong. Ellis was the only player missing from Monday’s practice as the team prepared for a tough stretch of games. Questions quickly arose whether he was taking a maintenance day or something else was wrong. Shortly after practice concluded, the team announced that Ellis would miss a significant period of time after re-injuring himself.

Seeler Filling in During Time of Need

Obviously, losing Ellis long-term is not ideal, but the Flyers have plenty of young talent capable of replacing him for the time being. Defenseman Nick Seeler has filled in that role for most of the season and has done a decent job doing so, but there needs to be a better plan long term. 

“This guy battles and plays hard every night. You know what you’re gonna get from him. A player that you want to play with and kind of go to battle with,” said Claude Giroux on the performance of Seeler this season. “He’s been playing great for us. Offensively and defensively, he’s been moving the puck well and moving his feet and obviously playing the body. That’s what he does best, so he’s fun to have on our side.”

Seeler is one of those guys that will do anything you ask of him and so much more. Stepping up into such a huge role has not been easy, but he has done more than the Flyers could have ever asked for, from fighting in the first game of the season to anchoring the third defensive pairing whenever needed. He was recently sent back down to the American Hockey League, but it is more than likely that he will be recalled prior to the Flyers’ next game tonight versus the Calgary Flames.

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While it is certainly not the best situation, the Flyers will have to continue filling the void with players like Seeler until Ellis is fully healthy. Hopefully, he will be able to return sooner rather than later, but it is not worth risking a season-ending injury by rushing him back into the lineup. Until then, the team will continue making do and attempting to win as many games as possible without him.

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