Many fans look at Ryan Ellis's diminuitive stature and wonder whether he can ever develop into a solid two-way NHL defenseman, and a pair of assignments to Milwaukee this season only fed those doubts. Is now the time for Nashville to see what Ellis might fetch on the trade market, or is he a core element of the team's future?
|2012 - Ryan Ellis||32||2||4||6||-2||15||2||0||0||48||4.2|
|EV TOI/Gm||OZ %||QoT||QoC|
|5-5 Shots/60||5-5 Pts/60||Corsi On||Corsi Rel|
|Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|PP TOI/Gm||5-4 GF On/60||5-4 Pts/60||PK TOI/Gm||4-5 GA On/60|
|Penalty Plus/Minus||Favor of the Hockey Gods|
|Taken||Drawn||On-Ice Sht%||On-Ice Sv%||PDO|
Explanation of table can be found at the end of Gabby Bourque's review.
Ooh, look at those sexy possession numbers! Ellis's Corsi results were best among Nashville defenseman by a long way, and they were equally strong last season as well. He creates plenty of shots for himself, and in addition, draws a fair number of penalties to give the Predators a few extra power plays (defensemen, due to the nature of their job, tend to take more penalties than they draw).
My Grade: B+
With Shea Weber & Kevin Klein ahead of him on the depth chart, Nashville is ideally suited to give Ellis the "soft" minutes which can best take advantage of his skills while minimizing his deficiencies. Set him up with a moderate amount of 5-on-5 action against relatively weak opposition, and plenty of power play work. There's every reason to believe he can develop gradually into a larger role over the course of time. Ellis has one more season left on his Entry Level Contract, after which he can become a Restricted Free Agent.
In short (rimshot, please) it's way too early to consider giving up on Ellis. He has the potential, which has been demonstrated it at the NHL level, to be a real difference-maker at even strength, something which the Nashville Predators desperately need. A case can be made that given Nashville's situation (a budget-constrained team with a large amount of money tied up in Weber & Pekka Rinne) that a robust offensive attack is best achieved by getting more out of your bottom six forwards and 3rd-pair defense, so even in a lesser role, Ellis's contributions could prove essential.
And if people keep harping about his his lack of height condemns him to NHL obscurity, he can always look behind the bench at his new assistant coach, Phil Housley. He sure did OK for a small guy.
As long as he has a stay-at-home partner minding the store, Ellis feels comfortable sneaking down low in the offensive zone, where he can create some serious mischief: