There is one question still surrounding the Nashville Predators this off-season. Ryan Ellis has yet to be re-signed and is apparently not close to a deal with the Predators. Training camp begins September 18 and it is becoming more likely that Ellis does not report to camp on time. However, with such an important “deadline”, if you will, on the way, maybe it pushes both sides to come to an agreement.
The 23-year-old is coming off a 3-year, $4.5 million entry-level contract. Last season, Ellis had career highs in goals (6), assists (21) and points (27) while leading all Nashville defensemen in plus/minus at +9. The native of Flamborough, Ontario also finished third in scoring behind Shea Weber and Roman Josi. Ellis wants more money and deservedly so.
The hit Nashville takes without Ellis is severe. Without Ellis, the pairings would be Weber-Josi, Jones-Volchenkov and Bartley-Ekholm. It is not bad, but certainly not a defense capable of bringing the Predators into the postseason. What happens if a defenseman gets hurt? Nashville would have to call up Johan Alm, Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, Garrett Noonan or Joe Piskula. Piskula is the only one of the four that have experience in the NHL.
With that being said and coming off a career year, Ellis and his camp has leverage at the bargaining table over general manager David Poile.
What could end up happening in this situation will bring some fans back to a time of worry. In the summer of 2012, Shea Weber signed a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers, forcing Poile to match the offer or lose their captain. The purpose was not to play in the City of Brotherly Love, rather frame a contract for Nashville to sign Weber to. It worked and essentially made Weber a Predator for the remainder of his career.
At this time in September, most teams already have their teams set and prepared. Ellis could take the path as well, but time is of the essence. No matter what happens, questions should be answered in the days leading into training camp. Nashville cannot afford to lose an asset like Ellis at the beginning of Peter Laviolette’s head coaching tenure.