The Nashville Predators defence has been one of the better blueline groups the last few seasons and Ryan Ellis has been a big part of it. Ellis eclipsed the 40-point mark for the first time last season with seven goals and 34 assists.
The Hamilton, Ontario native came into the league with plenty of offensive hype. He helped the Windsor Spitfires win back-to-back Memorial Cups in 2008 and 2009. Ellis scored 20 goals twice with Windsor and was CHL Player of the Year in 2011.
However, he’s been able to round himself into a more complete player. His Corsi for has been over 50-percent in all but one of his eight-year NHL career. Ellis has also been better in his own half of the ice. He’s worked on his positioning and has been able to get control of the puck to start rushes the other way.
Roman Josi is the captain and pretty much the leader of the group. However, Ellis is going to need to step his game up even more now that P.K. Subban was sent to the New Jersey Devils on NHL Draft weekend.
Ryan Ellis Ready to Lead
Ellis is a smooth skater and a great stickhandler that has a penchant for scoring goals. He has also added a physical element to his game despite him being 5-foot-10-inches and 180 pounds. The 28-year-old is willing to throw his body around when needed.
He’s also very skilled on the power play as he helps quarterback one of the units for the Predators. Nashville’s special teams struggled last season and its power play was anemic at times. However, the addition of former Spokane Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert may help the Predators power-play problems. Lambert has been successful at all levels in running the extra-man unit.
Ellis has formed successful partnerships with Josi and Mattias Ekholm in recent seasons and could spend time with promising rookie Dante Fabbro. The veteran would be a perfect partner to work him into the lineup. Both players came into the NHL with plenty of offensive promise and he can help Fabbro navigate the waters of a hyped rookie.
The veteran would click with any of the three defenders on the team. Many want to see him with Josi or help Fabbro develop into another in a long line of quality Nashville defencemen.
The Model of Consistency
The former 11th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft has been a steady force for the team in his career. He’s been in the top-30 when compared to other defencemen in the league. The only season he didn’t do that was when he was injured in 2017-18 after his knee surgery.
His offensive numbers have been consistent for most of his career and he’s been willing to adapt his game. Ellis has become a better passer and tried to look for the open player instead of shooting.
He’s also evolved into a veteran leader in the locker room. Players have raved about Ellis being a veteran presence and a steadying force.
What it Means for the Future
Expectations are high for the Predators after adding Matt Duchene to the lineup after freeing up cap space when they made the Subban deal. Duchene is expected to bring scoring punch to a team that needed it. He may also help the woeful power play and Ellis may be a beneficiary.
Nashville would love to see Ellis challenge for the 50-point mark next season. Fixing the power play would go a long way to get to that goal.
Expectations will also be high for Ellis and he’ll need to be at his best if the Predators want to get a third straight Central Division title and a return to the Stanley Cup Final.
DENVER, CO – APRIL 22: Ryan Ellis #4 of the Nashville Predators fires a goal against the Colorado Avalanche in Game Six of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 22, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)