It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Nashville Predators 2009 1st-round draft pick, defenseman Ryan Ellis, will soon head back to his junior team, the Windsor Spitfires. But should he?
Over at Mile High Hockey, they've been considering the question of Matt Duchene, the 3rd overall pick for Colorado who stands to get lots of ice time at the center spot, particularly in light of Joe Sakic's retirement.
What David Driscoll-Carignan did was examine the performance of top draft picks, to see if making the transition from junior hockey straight to the NHL made any difference in player performance, based on their 1st NHL season, their best NHL season, and their career numbers. He failed to find any convincing evidence that extra time spent in junior helped these prospects in either the short- or long-term.
With that in mind, we all know that the power play is Nashville's greatest opportunity for improvement. Might it make sense, then, both for the individual and the team, to keep Ellis in Nashville playing spot duty on the 3rd pair at even strength, with a larger role on the PP? He'd certainly benefit from practicing with the Preds on a daily basis, which is probably the best way for him to get up to NHL speed. Check out this analysis of what Ellis might do in a rookie NHL campaign, based on the points-per-game translation from junior to the big leagues.
Interestingly, even Paul McCann writes this morning "I wouldn't be surprised to see him with the team for a couple of regular season games before being returned to Windsor."
Of course, he still has some physical maturing to do, as his 5'9" 180 pound frame attests. Learning to handle NHL-level hitting is an artform in itself. The argument can also be made that massive amounts of game time would best serve his development, the kind he would get only in Windsor. For those wondering, Milwaukee isn't an option, as the AHL has a minimum age requirement that Ellis won't meet for two more seasons.
So what do you think, folks? Whither Ryan Ellis?