With Nashville Predators’ top offseason priority being the extension of Ryan Ellis’ contract, what will it cost to lock up their bearded defenseman?
With literally the entire roster in place now, the only task left this summer, is to extend Ellis’ contract. He is currently set to become a free agent after the 2018-2019 season. After this season, he will have played out the final year of his 5-year, $12.5 million contract.
Some might wonder why Ellis’ contract is an issue now, if he still has another season to go. The answer is simple: it will be cheaper and easier to take care of that now.
A Look Forward
Next summer, the Predators will have a bit more on their plate, than they did coming into this offseason. Kevin Fiala, Colton Sissons, Ryan Hartman, and Pekka Rinne will all become free agents, like Ellis. With a little over $9 million of current cap room, it would be beneficial to go on and work out a deal with Ellis.
With the way the cap sheet currently stands for the 2019-2020 season, the Predators are going to be working with around $23 million to spend. That should go between Fiala, Sissons, Hartman, and potentially Rinne. Adding Ellis into that conversation would just make things messy.
Especially since he deserves the most of that group.
Nashville should have no trouble signing that bunch with $23 million, however, Ellis is expected to make somewhere around $6-7 million. If the Predators were to wait to sign him until next season, then negotiations with Fiala, Sissons, Hartman, and Rinne become much trickier.
With a fairly weak pool of free agent defensemen this offseason, the time is right to extend Ellis.
The big X-factor for next summer is Karlsson though.
If Karlsson re-signs with Ottawa or is traded, then Ellis becomes the best free agent defenseman on the market, meaning his asking price is likely to skyrocket.
Ellis is outspoken about his desire to stay in Nashville, however, he has long outperformed his $2.5 million annual salary. If the Predators wait until next summer, then that projected $6-7 million annual salary might even increase.
All of this to say, it’s far more beneficial to extend Ellis now, before his name is on every team’s big board in a year.
The closest current contract comparisons for Ellis all range between $6.5-$7.25 million, annually. The Tennessean gave us these great comparisons, and a few more, that might shed some light to what Ellis can make.
Kris Letang: 26 years old- 8 years, $7.25 million annually with Pittsburgh.
Erik Johnson: 27 years old- 7 years, $6 million annually with Colorado.
Cam Fowler: 25 years old- 8 years, $6.5 million with Anaheim.
When Ellis signed his current deal back in 2014, he had just finished his first full season, where he tallied 27 points, a 0.33 points per game average. David Poile thought that his performance and foreseeable future was worth $2.5 million a year.
Since then, Ellis has racked up a 0.51 points per game average, meaning that he is more valuable now. Simply put, he won’t be signing for a discount this time around.
He might love the Predators and Nashville, but nobody that is worth $6-7 million annually, will settle for “measly” $3-4 million.
I mean, that beard alone is worth at least a million or two…
So When Can We Expect a Deal?
Honestly, I would’ve expected a deal by now. With not much else going on this offseason, and this being their top priority, I would’ve expected some good news by now. However, that card plays both ways, and since Nashville doesn’t have much going on, maybe neither side is in a rush.
Either way, I would expect to hear about an extension soon.
Ellis is a phenomenal defenseman that needs to stay put in Nashville. He is a very solid defender, is a great skater, has excellent vision, and has one of the sneakiest bombs of a shot in the NHL. He is a rising star, even though he is 27. He has gotten better in all facets of the game each year, and was on pace for right on 60 points last season, if he would’ve played a full 82 games.
All of this is to say that I expect a deal to be agreed upon very shortly. Ellis is too important to Nashville, and it would just be irresponsible to not extend him now.