It’s been a very productive offseason for the Nashville Predators, but nothing tops getting Ryan Ellis extended for several years. Now make him captain.
We can head into the upcoming season with a lot of excitement, optimism and confidence as Nashville Predators fans. Their offseason is going as great as you can hope for with GM David Poile continuing his wizardry. He’s one of the best GM’s in all of sports, and is working his magic to keep the Predators’ Stanley Cup window wide open for at least couple years longer.
You can’t top the eight-year deal that will keep Ryan Ellis with the Predators for the foreseeable future. It was the biggest priority of the offseason, and the deal is very team-friendly. It’s great for both parties.
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With Ellis’ long-term future likely cemented with the Predators, you have to love where the Predators sit when it comes to their core part of the roster. They can virtually keep the same team together and remain a top contender for many more years. This fun ride is nowhere near coming to an end. With the right leadership on the ice, this group is destined to win a Stanley Cup.
What makes Ellis a great leader
Ellis checks all of the boxes when it comes to being a great leader, or captain, for a team like the Predators. Roman Josi took the captain role last season after Mike Fisher‘s first retirement. Before that, it was Shea Weber all the way back to 2010. This isn’t a knock on Josi’s first year as captain, or that he’s not deserving. It’s more about how special Ellis is to this team as the face of the franchise both on and off the ice.
Captains have to represent their teams in top form in the media, and no one does that better than Ellis. He’s done it time and time again with post-game quotes and holding everyone accountable when they don’t play well. His most recent quote regarding his eight-year deal worth $50 million says it all about where his priorities are, per Brooks Bratten:
"“I’m getting paid more than enough to play hockey. It was just about coming across a fair deal that would work for both sides. We have other guys that need to be re-upped and need to be signed in the future, and I had to do my part to keep this thing going in the right direction.”"
Sounds like the words of a great captain who thinks team-first, and backs it up. We see professional athletes in all sports say the team comes first. Rarely do they actually back it up with their bank accounts.
For the Predators to keep their Stanley Cup window open as long as possible, they need this mentality throughout the locker room. It starts with the front office, head coach and captain. With the most-qualified leaders in place, this mentality will spread throughout the roster make the Predators’ Stanley Cup hopes sustainable for several years.
This isn’t about Josi
I have to reiterate that this isn’t about Josi as a player or as a leader in his own right. He’s a superb captain, but not the best option available. For starters, Josi has just two years left on his current deal. Poile may very well figure out a way to keep him past that. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening. The Predators can’t keep everyone, regardless of how much we like them.
On the other hand, Ellis is going to play a huge role in the Predators remaining a top team in the Western Conference for many years. The franchise is committing to him long-term and that’s the type of player that needs the “C” on his uniform.
Josi is a skilled defenseman that obviously contributes a lot to the team. He’ll be needed again this year to perform at a high level. However, he shouldn’t have the prestigious title of captain over Ellis. If not for Ellis’ injury, he most likely would not have gotten the role in the first place. He should take the role of associate captain, and Ellis should be elevated to the role we all know he should have.
It’s not all about stats when choosing the captain. With that said, Ellis will likely have better numbers than Josi if both play a similar amount of games next season. His importance on the power play elevates his value even more over Josi. If you had to choose one player to let go today, Josi would be the more dispensable player. You would rather keep both, but Josi offers less value in the long and short term. Do the right thing Predators and make Ellis captain after everything he’s sacrificed for the greater good.