Ryan Ellis Impacts Draft Decision

Here we are again with the Philadelphia Flyers and injuries that seem to linger forever.

Unfortunately for everyone and nobody’s surprise, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher recently confirmed that defenseman Ryan Ellis has a long way to go in his recovery from the mysterious injury that limited him to four games last season, saying things like ” keep moving forward” and “we just have to see how everything reacts”. It wasn’t the worst news we could have heard, but it did next to nothing to clarify.

And clarity is very important in today’s salary-constrained NHL, as teams do their best to know exactly where they stand financially at all times. If you get capped, you’ll eventually have to pay the piper, but you don’t exactly want to leave money on the table if you’re serious about icing off a legitimate contender, like the Flyers say they are. So, yes, Ryan Ellis’ status could have a big impact on the Flyers’ offseason plan, as they’re unsure if they need to factor in his $6.25 million cap hit or if he’s in the long-term -Injured Reserve (LTIR) is stowed. .

But aside from the potential for the Flyers’ free-agent pursuit to change this offseason, Ellis’ situation could also be directly related to what the Flyers are doing with their first-round picks (5th overall) in the upcoming NHL draft want. So let’s discuss.

Ryan Ellis’ status could greatly affect draft plans for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Leading up to Draft Day, the two names most commonly associated with the Flyers’ top picks were Simon Nemec and David Jiricek. Both are right-handers of European descent, with Nemec (the smaller of the two) being more of a playmaker with a high ‘hockey IQ’ and Jiricek possessing the blistering slapshot that all teams love to have on the power play. Personally, I don’t think the Flyers could go wrong with any of these guys, and they’ll likely make the decision for themselves if only one of these players is available when they decide.

Well, the Ellis angle of it all.

When the Flyers took over Ryan Ellis last offseason in what seems like ages ago, they undoubtedly envisioned him as their No. 1 RHD for years to come alongside Ivan Provorov at the helm, in a perfect world. Obviously those plans have gone out the window. The Flyers now have a tough decision to make if they truly believe Ellis can return to the level they envisioned. If they have serious doubts, which I think is justified, they probably need to design either Nemec or Jiricek and not think twice about the other options.

Other options you say?

Why, yes, because the Flyers have a number of ways they can turn. They might decide they’re confident enough in Ellis’ eventual return to buy them more time on the blueline, allowing them to trade fifth overall pick for immediate help (Chuck Fletcher’s statement about “a player in a certain age group” ). They could then be more concerned about getting a fresh infusion of defenders into the system with later selections this year or elsewhere. Granted, none of these D-men are likely to be as good as Nemec or Jiricek, but it’s an option.

The other possibility is that the Flyers pick a fifth-pick forward, with C/LW Cutter Gauthier being the name that’s been popping up lately. Again, the Flyers would need to be reasonably confident about the form of their defense to justify such a choice, but Gauthier could be worth it in the long run if he offers the kind of shooting and finishing ability the Flyers have lacked for far too long .

Pretty much the only certainty regarding the Flyers pick is that Shane Wright and Juraj Slafkovsky will be off the board when the clock shows them up. One or both of Nemec and Jiricek will likely be gone, and maybe another team will jump on Gauthier and make the Flyers decision for them. Maybe they could even vote for someone like Logan Cooley or Matthew Savoie. All of these would be welcome additions to the franchise at this point, but there’s no such thing as a sure thing. See: Patrick, Nolan.

In any case, to expect Nemec, Jiricek, or any of those other players to make the leap to the NHL this year and be as effective as a healthy Ryan Ellis would be folly. I’m not suggesting that a newly drafted player can be an absolutely instant replacement or upgrade over a good NHLer. But you also need to get maximum value out of young players when they are most financially manageable. Anyone who has the fifth-pick Flyers draft needs to be on this team and pulling their weight in the near future. And if that’s the role the Flyers had in mind for Ellis, then so be it.

In the end, the task for Fletcher and his braintrust is twofold. First, assess what you have about the club now (and what is imminent along the way) to identify areas that need to be addressed in the short term. Then decide if Ellis and other players are likely to stay with you for the long term, and create a succession plan so the closet doesn’t run empty. When you have the fifth overall pick, you seem to be dealing with those two areas at the same time. And while the Ryan Ellis situation makes the decision that much harder, the Flyers really need to make it through. Otherwise it won’t be Chuck Fletcher’s problem much longer, because the front office merry-go-round in Philadelphia could turn again.

Leave a Comment