Flyers: Getting to Know Ryan Ellis

In what was a busy time for deals and news all throughout the NHL on Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers made a big acquisition to their blue line. Defenseman Ryan Ellis, who spent the last 10 seasons with the Nashville Predators, was traded to the orange and black in exchange for defender Philippe Myers and forward Nolan Patrick (who was then dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights for Cody Glass). Ellis steps into the Flyers’ defensive lineup at 30 years old, the second-oldest on the roster (Justin Braun being the oldest currently at age 34). The veteran is going to make a solid impact both on and off the ice for Philly, and he no doubt should make the younger talents better under his tutelage. For Flyers fans who may not know about Ellis though, here is some background on the new face on the back end.

Stabilizing the Blue Line in the Music City

Ellis was drafted by the Predators in the first round (11th overall) in 2009. At the time, he had finished his second season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Windsor Spitfires. His entire stint with the junior club lasted from 2007 to 2011 after two more campaigns there. He posted the following regular-season totals while in Windsor:

  • 2007-08: 15 goals and 48 assists for 63 points in 63 games
  • 2008-09: 22 goals and 67 assists for 89 points in 57 games
  • 2009-10: 12 goals and 49 assists for 61 points in 48 games
  • 2010-11: 24 goals and 77 assists for 101 points in 58 games

On top of that, he posted 19 goals and 69 assists for 88 points in 62 playoff games for them. One of his biggest accomplishments in his career to this point was helping Windsor win back-to-back Memorial Cup championships in 2009 and 2010. This resulted in him being named captain of the club prior to the 2010-11 season. He already learned how to be a leader at such an early stage of his career, as well as how much hard work and dedication go into winning not one but two championships.

Ryan Ellis Nashville Predators
Ryan Ellis, shown here with the Nashville Predators, was named captain of the Windsor Spitfires prior to the 2010-11 season. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After his Spitfires tenure ended, Ellis went to the American Hockey League (AHL) to suit up for Nashville’s affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. He was there for parts of three campaigns (2011 playoffs as well as 2011-12 and 2012-13) before becoming an NHL regular in 2013-14. He grew into a solid point-producer on the back end for the Predators, who had defensive contributions become an identity for the team. Ellis had a stellar support system to skate alongside. He started in the organization for his first full NHL season during the days of Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, and Mattias Ekholm as teammates. He soon established himself as one of their premier talents on the blue line who could hold his own in offensive production.

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Ellis was also able to be teammates with P.K. Subban in a foursome along with Josi and Ekholm that were key components in the Predators making the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history in 2017. On that run, he was in a three-way tie for third in postseason scoring for the team with forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen (all had 13 points). Only Filip Forsberg (16) and Josi (14) had more. Ellis specifically accumulated five goals and eight assists for those 13 points in 22 matchups.

Overall, Ellis finished his Nashville career with 75 goals and 195 assists for 270 points in 562 regular-season games. He also produced a total of seven tallies and 31 assists for 38 points in 74 postseason contests. He leaves as one of the best defensemen in the organization ever. With a club who also had the likes of Weber, Ryan Suter, and Kimmo Timonen among others in their history; that’s a huge honor. His departure continues the fresh narrative for the Predators moving in a different direction with the news already of longtime goalie Pekka Rinne retiring after being with the organization for 15 campaigns. Nashville adding both Myers and Glass on Saturday shows the team is trying to get younger in their new direction.

New Chapter in the City of Brotherly Love

Ellis will be one of the leaders right off the bat when the 2021-22 season begins. In addition to his captaincy in juniors, he was an alternate captain over in Nashville and will bring his many years of experience to a locker room with many younger players who might gain quite a bit of knowledge from him. He also takes the load off defenders like in the case of Ivan Provorov, who led all defensemen scoring with 26 points (seven goals and 19 assists) in 56 matchups in 2020-21. Ellis had a bit of a down season statistically last year, but I think he can emerge back as one of the best offensive defensemen for Philly. He and Provorov will give opposing teams fits.

It is unknown what else Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher and his staff will do to the blue line and the rest of the roster before the puck drops in the fall. After getting so far in 2019-20, the drop the team experienced last season was unacceptable. Ellis is someone who won championships early in his hockey career and went all the way to the Cup Final. He knows what it takes to get to an opportunity to fight for the Stanley Cup. He and the Predators may not have won it in 2017, but he will provide guidance to his new teammates who might not know what it takes to reach that next level. His background as a captain with the Spitfires and alternate captaincy in Nashville shape him into another leader in the locker room who will command respect. He should fit in perfectly with the rest of the squad and it is a move that can help get the team back on course toward a potentially deep postseason run in the future.