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Nashville Predators 2016-17 Player Report Cards: Ryan Ellis

The Human Rocket Ship had a career season for the Nashville Predators.

2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Season Overview

Ryan Ellis plays a crucial role on the Nashville Predators, both by being a member of the best defense in the league and also by being Roman Josi’s new partner since the departure of Shea Weber.

This season, Ellis put up career high numbers in goals (16) and points (38), while also bumping his ice time to nearly 24 minutes per game. He had his share of injuries, both in the regular season and in the playoffs, but when Ellis was out there, there’s no question he was one of the most poised and skilled blueliners on the team.

He was also the 117th cheapest defenseman in the league last year. That’s right... 116 defenseman got paid more than Ryan Ellis last year.

There are a lot of ways in which Ellis impacted the Predators 2016-17 season—his consistent defensive play, his leadership, his passing, his brilliantly timed offensive pinches—but I’ll focus on one that I think gets overlooked: his power play contributions.

Shea Weber being traded to Montreal left a huge void on the Predators power play. Like, a huge void. Say what you will about the Predators over reliance on “give it to Shea and get out of the way,” Weber scored 80 power play goals in 11 seasons here. That’s a lot.

The primary addition on the power play since Weber left is obviously P.K. Subban. He contributed 16 points on the power play this season, including three goals. Add to that the always reliable Roman Josi, who had 18 power play points, including seven goals, and you have a two very reliable puck-moving defensemen on the man advantage.

But Ryan Ellis was fantastic in his role as well. He was used primarily as the main trigger man on the left circle on the 2nd power play unit, pumping shots from Shea Weber’s old spot.

He was excellent in this role. Not only could he be relied on to get zone entries if needed, he always executed the cycle game very well before getting in position to shoot.

In fact, a quick glance at the underlying numbers shows that Ellis was, minute-for-minute, just as dangerous an offensive weapon on the power play as Subban and Josi.

Ellis vs. Subban/Josi on the power play

Player TOI Shots iSH% Points per60 Shots per60 iCorsi per60
Player TOI Shots iSH% Points per60 Shots per60 iCorsi per60
Ellis 153 40 10.0 3.93 15.73 29.10
Subban 171 35 8.6 5.61 12.28 26.67
Josi 213 45 13.3 4.79 12.68 24.79

Part of this is that Ellis’ role was a bit different—playing against the 2nd penalty kill unit, while also primarily being a shooter—but you can’t discount his ability to generate a higher volume of shots and shot attempts with the ice-time he was given.

(Also consider that while Subban and Ellis spent the majority of their power play time with guys like Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, Josi was out there with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg.)

Ellis does a lot well for the Predators. In addition to his offensive abilities, he very rarely makes defensive mistakes and I’m not sure there is anyone with a faster work rate in the defensive zone than Ellis. It is rare that an opponent beats him to a loose puck.

The beard is nice too.

Best Moment

Speaking of Ryan Ellis power play contributions...

Late in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Blues, the game was scoreless. Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne were both outstanding, and it looked like the game would come down to whoever put home the first goal.

Then the Predators found themselves on the power play and Ryan Ellis was able to pounce on a rebound to make it a 1-0 game.

It was a huge goal that sent Bridgestone Arena into madness and also led to this incredible celebration from head coach Peter Laviolette:

Ellis’ goal was a crucial point in the playoffs. The Preds had a 2-1 series lead, but the Blues were fighting hard to tie the series, mostly behind Jake Allen’s incredible play. The physical nature of this series was boiling over and the Predators had already lost Kevin Fiala to a leg injury. You had a feeling that the series would swing dramatically in favor of whoever would win Game 4.

The win would give the Preds a 3-1 series lead over the Blues and the Preds clinched the Conference Final the following Sunday.

Worst Moment

Ellis had a few injuries to deal with this season and none was bigger than the one in Game 5 of the Cup Final against the Penguins. He had to leave game early and there was much speculation about his availability for Game 6.

After skating that morning, Ellis played 24:05 in Game 6, registering one shot, three blocks, two hits, and zero points. On top of that, he was on the ice for Patric Hornqvist’s late 3rd period game-winning goal. Ellis was not at 100% for the game and the Predators lost the biggest game in franchise history.

Also, back in November, Ellis had a crazy moment with J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It wasn’t a great look for Ellis (who blindsided Brown with a dangerous hit) and it was an even worse look for Brown (who lost his damn mind).

Trending Up or Down?

Definitely trending up. Coming off a career season, Ellis will turn 27 years old this year and is under contract for two more seasons. Assuming that his injury situation is all squared away (David Poile said that he expects Ellis to be ready for training camp) and assuming that nothing screwy happens with the defensive lineup, I think we can expect to see even more from Ellis this coming season.

Season Grade: A

All player stats from and


How would you grade Ryan Ellis’ 2016-17 season?

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