Chuck Fletcher got his man.
With the clock ticking toward Saturday’s roster freeze and the submission of protected lists ahead of next Wednesday’s expansion draft, Fletcher acquired defenseman Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Philippe Myers and forward Nolan Patrick. Patrick was then traded from Nashville to Vegas in exchange for Cody Glass.
The Flyers have been rumored to be interested in Ellis for months. Before the trade deadline, when Nashville was far from playoff contention, it was believed that the team was looking to move left-shot defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who has one year remaining before unrestricted free agency. Along the way, the conversation seemed to shift over to Ellis, who’s locked up long term with six years remaining on a deal that carries a cap hit of $6.25 million. In the end, the Predators stood pat, and made the playoffs.
About Ryan Ellis
At 30, Ellis is four years old than Seth Jones. He fell out of the running as a trade target when he wouldn’t entertain the notion of signing a contract extension that would keep him in Philadelphia for the long term.
Drafted 11th overall by the Predators in 2009, Ellis plays a more robust game than you might expect from someone who’s listed at 5’10” and 180 pounds. He’s strong on both sides of the puck and can be a power-play anchor. In his best offensive season, he scored 16 goals in 2016-17, then added another five goals and eight assists in 22 games as the Predators reached the Stanley Cup Final before falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
All told, Ellis has collected 75 goals and 270 points in 562 NHL games. He had 18 points in 35 games last season and added another five points in the Predators’ six-game loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs.
Ellis has had some injury issues over the years. He missed 20 games last season with an upper-body injury. When he is healthy, he plays big minutes in all situations. Over the last five seasons, he has averaged 23:47 per game, including more than two minutes a game on both the power play and the penalty kill.
For the Flyers, he’ll fill the void on the right side that was left after Matt Niskanen’s unexpected retirement ahead of the 2020-21 season. That’s the number one item on Chuck Fletcher’s offseason to-do list, handled.
Patrick To Vegas
Of course, a player of this caliber doesn’t come cheaply. To acquire Ellis, Fletcher gave up second-overall draft pick Nolan Patrick and young defenseman Philippe Myers.
In Vegas, the Manitoba native Patrick will be reunited with Kelly McCrimmon. The Golden Knights’ GM served as general manager and head coach for three of Patrick’s four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL.
After missing nearly two years with migraine disorder, Patrick made big strides to play a full season in 2020-21. But his game was a bit more tentative than before his injuries. He struggled on both sides of the puck. Patrick finished last season with just four goals and nine points in 52 games. His minus-30 tied him for second-worst in the entire NHL.
At season’s end, there were rumors that Patrick would be interested in a change of scenery. With McCrimmon in Vegas, he’ll get his best opportunity to succeed.
Patrick is a restricted free agent, who turns 23 in September. His departure opens up an additional protection slot for the Flyers forwards in the expansion draft.
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Goodbye To Myers
As for Myers, the big blueliner impressed Alain Vigneault enough to earn a full-time role during the 2019-20 season. He finished with 16 points in 50 games and was a plus-17. In 16 playoff games, he chipped in three goals, including a memorable overtime winner in Game 2 against the Islanders.
Myers was one of the young players the Flyers were counting on to take another step forward in 2020-21. His ice time went up by nearly two minutes a game, but his game regressed with that additional responsibility. Myers suffered a rib injury early in the season that may have impeded his progress. He scored just once all year and was healthy scratched several times as Vigneault looked for a solution to his team’s defensive woes as the season wore on.
Undrafted and signed by the Flyers as a free agent in 2015, Myers will turn 25 in January. He has two years left on a deal that carries a cap hit of $2.55 million per season. After that, he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
Myers also requires protection in the expansion draft. That slot on the Flyers’ board will now go to Ellis.
NHL teams must submit their protected lists to the league and the NHLPA no later than 5 p.m. ET on Saturday. The lists will be made public on Sunday morning.