Nashville Predators: Signing Ryan Ellis should be top priority

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 1: Goalie Juuse Saros
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 1: Goalie Juuse Saros /

After a success, yet abbreviated, season, the Nashville Predators should sign Ryan Ellis to a multi-year contract extension. It is priority number one.

Free agency is an exciting and tricky time for teams and players alike. Finding the right fit at the proper salary is never an easy process. For the Nashville Predators, it is about contending for the Stanley Cup for the next several seasons. Thankfully, there are only a few holes on the roster that require addressing this offseason. Juuse Saros is the lone major free agent the team must sign. Even so, he – along with Ryan Hartman and Miikka Salomaki – is a restricted free agent.

A majority of the Predators’ roster is set. The top offensive line in Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg is among the top lines in the NHL. They are not going anywhere. The next two lines are also roughly in place, though the addition of a top scoring forward could change things a bit. Defensively, the top two pairings are in place for one more year. Roman Josi is around for two more seasons before reaching free agency. Ryan Ellis, just one more year.

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If the Predators want to continue the contending ways, signing Ellis to a contract extension makes perfect sense. He is part of the core of the team and their standard is keeping the team together. It should be the top priority this offseason.


It is apparent Ellis positively effects the team when on the ice. In just 44 games, Ellis generated 32 points and finished fourth on the team in blocked shots. His short-share stats reflect a player that is adept at creating offense and shutting down opponents.

But, you cannot just assess Ellis for one season if you are talking contract extension. If you look at Ellis’s performance over the last three years, he compares well with all the major names in the NHL. Take a look at Corsica Hockey. When viewing players stats for all defensemen with 2000+ minutes starting from 2015-2018, you get a great look at how well Ellis performs. During that span, Ellis is tenth in points per 60 (1.04), 21st in CorsiFor (53.02), eighth in goals (22), 14th in expected goals for percentage (53.73), and 13th in total primary points per 60 minutes (.7). Names that are consistently around Ellis in the stats? P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Seth Jones, and Victor Hedman.

So, Ellis is one of the top defensemen in the league. But, may be third best on the team.

Why now?

Along with these stats comes one more valuable piece of information: this year’s free agency class is not great. The only player who compares favorably to Ellis and is a free agent this offseason is John Carlson. Everyone else is either older or do not produce to the level of Ellis.

Carlson, who is 28, tallied 62 points this season in 81 games. If you projected Ellis’s work over the same amount of games, he would gain approximately 59 points. Our friends at On The Forecheck did a more in-depth comparison of the two stars, and it is worth viewing. Carlson earned $4 million dollars last year and should easily sign for $6.5 to $7 million this offseason, if not more. Next offseason, free agents include Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Ryan McDonagh, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Certainly a tougher and high-priced class.

It would seem that the Nashville Predators would want to sign Ellis now while the price may be a bit lower. Remember, he is the third-best defenseman statistically on the team. But, he may also be the team’s best leader. This year, they have enough space to sign him long-term, with cap space the following seasons to fill a hole left by Pekka Rinne and address Kevin Fiala and Colton Sissons.

In terms of contract length, don’t expect the Predators to do the full 8-year deal they are allowed to complete. During the 2017-18 season, only 13 defensemen age 34 or older played in the NHL. Ellis will be 28 during next season.

Next: Ellis's short season still successful

Therefore, based on these comparisons, Ryan Ellis could sign a 6-year, $6 million dollar contract with the Predators. It seems to be a favorite of David Poile’s. Just ask Kyle Turris and Filip Forsberg.