With the NHL’s roster freeze going into affect at 3:00 pm before the Expansion Draft next week, there were a flurry of trades before teams submitted their final lists to the NHL.  The Flyers were one of the teams to make a big splash, acquiring Nashville Predators’ defender Ryan Ellis in exchange for Nolan Patrick and Phil Myers. 

In in this acquisition, the Flyers’ traded two recently underachieving young players on their roster.  Patrick, the former 2nd overall pick in the 2017 draft, has fought injuries and inconsistencies.  A change of scenery was desired, and he will be reunited with his former coach in Vegas after Nashville flipped him for Cody Glass.  Phil Myers, who vastly underachieved last season, will remain in Nashville, and possibly exposed in the expansion draft.

Who is Ryan Ellis?

Flyers’ fans may recognize the name Ryan Ellis.  His name has been linked to the Flyers for a while now.  The Flyers were never able to replace Matt Niskanen last season on the top pair and Ellis is an immediate candidate for that position.  A right-shot, the 31 year-old plays a much different style of game than Niskanen.  Nonetheless, he is a massive upgrade on the back-end and immediately solidies the Flyers’ top pair.  Born and raised in Ontario, Ellis played his junior career in Windsor in the OHL.  He famously starred for Canada at the World Juinor Chapmionship and was a first round pick of the Nashville Predators.  

Offensively Gifted

At 5’10, Ryan Ellis isn’t a big guy, but that’s never slowed him down at the NHL level.  Ellis has run the powerplay for years in Nashville, and excels in offensive situations.  He isn’t the fastest defender on the planet, but he is uses his edges well and creates space for himself and his teammates with his awareness in all three zones.  Ellis’ defensive play has improved with age, and has been one of the biggest minute-munchers ar ea previously loaded Pred’s defense core.

Playoff Experience

Ryan Ellis has also a plethora of playoff experience, playing a total of 73 games, including a Stanley Cup playoff run back in 2017.  Ellis has always put up excellent offensive numbers in the playoffs over the course of his career.  Playing over 500 games at the NHL level provides the Flyers’ with some much needed leadership from the back-end

Analytically Solid

Though 31 years-old, Ellis is at minimum a solid pick-up for the Flyers’, even analytically speaking.  Once considered elite by most within hockey’s analytic community, Ellis is considered by most to still be a top-four defender.  Ellis has seen a bit of drop in his overall play, but not enough for a team like the Flyers’ to be concerned.  Players of Ellis’s stature and age tend to have a steep drop off in their game, but it will likely be two to three years before this happens for Ellis.  If he can stay healthy, Ellis improves the Flyers’ offense and defense in the short-term.

Overall Solid Pick-Up

In the end, the Ryan Ellis trade looks like a win for the Flyers.  Giving up two underachieving young players who some teams have clearly overvalued has allowed Chuck Fletcher the opportunity to acquire a first-pairing defender.  He will be immediately noticeable and will play a top-four role in Philly for the next few seasons.  This acquisition will immediately help the Flyers compete for a playoff position next season.