Nearly three years ago, Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile sat in front of reporters gushing about keeping the core of his team together after signing defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year, $50 million contract.
In fact, Ellis even gave the Predators a hometown discount on his salary in an effort to leave enough cap space to re-sign a few other players. He likely would have gotten a bigger payday had he hit the open market in 2018.
“I wanted something that was fair, but I didn’t want to break the bank so we could absolutely keep all these guys together,” Ellis said at the time.
So, it was understandable when the 30-year-old blueliner was blindsided by the weekend trade that sent him from Nashville to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Phillipe Myers and center Nolan Patrick, who was then flipped to Vegas for fellow center Cody Glass.
“I didn’t envision any of this, to be honest, ever,” Ellis told reporters on Tuesday. “I’ve never been traded. It was a shock and a lot of surprise, but after that, got to move forward and I’m excited for the next chapter. It was sad, I honestly haven’t even talked to all (of my ex-teammates) yet because it’s been so busy the last few days.”
The Saturday trade wasn’t performance based. Ellis was a rock-steady presence in the Predators lineup over the last decade. He scored 30 or more points five straight years from 2015-20 and he has had a positive plus/minus rating in nine of the 10 seasons he's played. In fact, his plus-114 rating is the fifth-best in the NHL over the last 10 years and the best-ever for any player in Predators’ history.
The 5-foot-10 defenseman had the ninth-most goals (75) and fifth-most points (270) of any Predators player since 2011. During that span, Ellis ranked second among defenseman behind Roman Josi in even-strength goals (52) and even-strength points (203), and he is one of just four Predators defensemen ever with 1,000 or more shots.
But Nashville’s loss in Philadelphia’s gain. The Flyers allowed the most goals in the NHL last season (197) with the second-worst penalty kill in the league (73.1 percent). Ellis, who Philly GM Chuck Fletcher believes “still has plenty of good hockey ahead of him," will surely play a big role in turning around the Flyers' PK as well as tightening up one of the more lackluster defensive units in the NHL.
“He’s great in transition, he can player the power play, he’s got a heavy shot, and he’s a very good penalty killer,” Fletcher said. “…We think he’s a really well-rounded hockey player, a quality person and somebody we feel very fortunate that we were able to add.”
Added Ellis: “At this point in my career, all I want to do is win. This organization has got a winning standard and expectations to do so. For me, I’m going to try and play my game and help the team out any way I can going forward.”
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