Ryan Ellis Season Preview: The Waiting Game
Whether or not Ellis will be a part of this team at the beginning of the season is yet to be seen, but I am looking forward to seeing how he plays through the uncertainty.
Considering that Ryan Ellis may not even be with the Predators at the beginning of the season, there are a lot of things that need to be figured out here. Ellis really came on at the end of last season, and by doing so, helped his trade value. He was third among Preds' defensemen in even strength individual goal and assist percentage (behind Shea Weber and Seth Jones). Ellis also had an above average offensive zone percentage (53.2%), which helped contribute to his offensive production. Ellis would definitely help provide a boost on defense for a team struggling at the position, or, even provide Nashville with more depth.
Coming from a purely player perspective. I see Ellis the same way I see Seth Jones. I am not sure if their lackluster stats (just by looking at the numbers) come from a non-possession system. With Ellis, I think it was more so just finding his groove. A majority of his points came in the latter half of the season. He was clearly getting his chances by playing against the other team's third and fourth lines. Ellis seemed to finally grasp the system and take advantage of the match ups he was dealt.
So the only question here is, do the Predators trade him, or sign him to a deal? Either way, it will be a win-win for the organization. Say that they sign him to a long term deal: Ellis has great speed and is a threat in the offensive zone. I think being locked in would allow him to play stress free and loosely on the ice. The boost he would provide on the second and third pair would prove detrimental to the success on the back end for the Preds. I would assume that Ellis and Mattias Ekholm would progress together and be a formidable long-term pairing.
If Ellis were to get traded before the season, the organization could get another top-six forward in return. We all know David Poile is great at getting a solid return on investment (when it comes to trades). I mean, if he doesn't get a top-six forward, he could still probably get a top prospect out of the deal. Now the potential is there, but I think if the Predators were to trade Ellis away, it would be better for the deal if it were in the middle of the season. This gives teams a chance to see that Ellis' emergence at the end of last year was no fluke. Some teams might bite before the season, but I think more suitors would emerge as the season goes on. I mean who wouldn't want this guy on their team?
Best Case Scenario
Ellis will be locked into a long term deal before the season starts. After the weight of negotiations get lifted off of his shoulders, he plays wanting to prove that he deserves every cent of the contract. I see him taking a big step forward and getting more powerplay time. The momentum he built last season carries over and he continues to be an offensive threat, scoring 35-40 points.
Worst Case Scenario
The Predators sign him to a contract and Ellis gets hurt in the first month of the season. The injury keeps him sidelined for almost half the season, thus dropping his trade value. With no one wanting to take his contract or the injury, the Preds keep him on the roster, but never see the same production from him. The trade rumors weigh on him negatively and it will show on the ice.
A contract will get done before the season. Trust me, at this point, this is a real bold prediction.
Elephant, because let's be real, he is the biggest one in the room right now.