Nashville Predators: These Players Are Facing the Most Pressure Entering Season

(Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 20: Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) skates with the puck during Game Five of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars, held on April 20, 2019, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 20: Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) skates with the puck during Game Five of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars, held on April 20, 2019, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Ryan Ellis

Much like the rest of the team, Ellis took a step back last season. He looked slower than the opposition at times, especially in the playoffs. His ascension into the higher ranks of NHL defensemen has stalled. Injuries can partially be thanked for that, but my question is has Ellis peaked in his career? Have we already seen the best he has to offer?

Not all was lost last season for Ellis. He did post 34 assists, which is an impressive number for a defenseman. It’s also a career-high. With the loss of P.K. Subban to the defensive unit, there’s no more pressure on all of the Nashville defenseman to pick up the load. However, I don’t see any defender facing the level that Ellis is. He too has a hefty contract to live up to that runs to 2026-27.

Ellis should fit into that second defensive pairing with Dante Fabbro. The Predators defense is still very strong, but it also has some question marks outside of the top-two of Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi. Ellis is going to have to be sharp playing alongside the young Fabbro. He has a lot to prove to return back to his old form. He looked more like a liability when playing highly-skilled offensive teams with a lot of speed. Can he bounce back and show more physicality and speed of his own?