Let's cut right to the chase: the fact the Nashville Predators were able to sign Ryan Ellis to a five-year, $12.5 million deal is fantastic. It's fantastic for Ellis (term wise), the team, the fans, David Poile, but maybe not so much for Victor Bartley.
According to CapGeek, Ellis is set to make $1.5 million this season, and will get a $500,000 raise every year until 2018-2019. That puts his AAV at just $2.5 million, which is a steal for a player like Ellis.
The team locks up the defenseman for a long (but reasonable) term, and does it while there's still time to get him into the training camp action. Given Peter Laviolette's role for defensemen in his system, this is crucial. Now he and the coaching staff will be able to figure out where he slots in and he can get used to the extremely high-tempo way they want to play. Being only a week behind is a lot better than jumping in during the middle of the season.
At only 23, the Flamborough, Ontario native still has room to develop his game. He notched a career best 27 points this season, splitting time on the second and third pair. It's very possible he could see time with Seth Jones again this year, but more than likely he'll round out the third pairing while playing on the second power play unit. Regardless of where he plays, though, fans will expect him to produce even more offense, which he is more than capable of doing.
As we previously covered, Ellis was only one of two full-time Preds defensemen that not only had positive possession metrics, but performed better than their team. The other was Mattias Ekholm, who could be Ellis' partner come the start of the season. Having both of those players forced onto the third pair isn't an indictment of their talent, but quite the opposite. It's an embarrassment of riches for Nashville, and it gives them one of the better blue lines in the league.
Even more fantastic news? He would have gotten way more money were he eligible to hit the open market. The price is so right, that if the Predators decided they want to move him, they would have a line out of the door of teams willing to talk business. A potential 4D at that AAV could fetch a pretty handsome return.
Granted, Poile said during the negotiations they don't want to trade him, and there has been no hint that that's in the cards in any capacity. Given the strength of the position in the system, it wouldn't cripple the team, but having Ellis in the lineup does make the team better. It's a win-win situation all around.
Now one of the biggest nagging questions for this team is put to rest. Ellis gets a good chunk of change and the security of knowing he's under contract for the next five years. The team gets another talented defenseman back on the roster before things got too ugly, and didn't have to break the bank to do it. It took a little longer than anyone would have wanted, but we can finally move on.
The official press release, via the Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (September 26, 2014) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed restricted free-agent defenseman Ryan Ellis to a five-year, $12.5 million contract. He will make $1.5 million in 2014-15, $2 million in 2015-16, $2.5 million in 2016-17, $3 million in 2017-18 and $3.5 million in 2018-19.
Ellis, 23 (1/3/91), ranked second on the Predators in games played (80) and plus/minus rating (+9), while ranking third among club blueliners in points (6g-21a-27pts) during the 2013-14 season. In 144 career NHL contests since 2011-12, the 5-10, 179-pound native of Freelton, Ontario, has recorded 44 points (11g-33a).
In May 2014, Ellis played in his first World Championship, leading all Canadian defensemen in points (1g-4a-5pts) and tying for fifth in the tournament in plus/minus rating (+8), continuing an already illustrious international career. He became Canadian ever to win three medals at the World Junior Championship, and with 25 points (5g-20a) in three tournaments, became the all-time leading defensive scorer in the history of the event.
Nashville's first choice, 11th overall (first round), in the 2009 Entry Draft was just the third defenseman in Ontario Hockey League history to record 300 career points (73g-241a-314pts, +145, 207 PIMs, 226 gp) – joining Rick Corriveau (329) and Denis Potvin (330) – when he completed his junior career. He won two Memorial Cups, two OHL titles and 13 individual awards or honors at the OHL or CHL level from 2007-11, including 2011 CHL Player of the Year and 2011 OHL Most Outstanding Player.