Why the Ryan Ellis breakout is (principally) for actual

5 minutes read

“He seems to be like he’d be capable to play the sport sitting in a rocking chair.”
“He’s so calm that he virtually seems to be bored on the market.”
“He at all times has the puck, and no person is ready to get it away from him.”
The scout, like so many on the time, was captivated by Ryan Ellis’ sport. These quips accompanied’ Ellis bio in The Hockey Information’ 2009 Draft Preview particular. We ranked Ellis 17th total that yr, however don’t suppose we had been low on him as a result of the Nashville Predators took him 11th. A rating of 17th for a defenseman listed at 5-foot-10 and 173 kilos was an enormous praise in 2009, when the sport hadn’t kicked its bias in opposition to small gamers but. It was the equal of projecting Ellis within the high 10 at this time.
Which is to say we, like so many prognosticators on the time, liked Ellis’ potential. He was a magical power-play quarterback, a gold-medallist with Canada on the world juniors as an 18-year-old. By the top of his remaining main junior season with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, he’d gained consecutive Memorial Cups as a key member of the Taylor-Corridor-led powerhouses. Ellis ripped off an absurd 101 factors in 58 video games throughout his remaining season of main junior. No CHL blueliner has hit the century mark since, and he’s the one one to do it prior to now 18 years.
So we at all times knew the offensive ceiling was tantalizingly excessive for Ellis. Via the primary eight seasons of his NHL profession, he hadn’t fairly realized it, regardless that he’d developed right into a much better all-around defenseman than anticipated. Working on a daily pairing with Roman Josi, Ellis has emerged as one of many higher two-way blueliners in hockey, a modernized model of defender within the 2019 panorama, the place pace and positioning trump brute power. Nevertheless it nonetheless felt like he was leaving some meat on the bone offensively given his large mobility, level shot and puck-moving acumen. Via seasons 1 to eight, he averaged 36.7 factors per 82 video games. Ellis had turn into an important member of a Predators workforce that went to the 2017 Stanley Cup remaining however, other than his injury-shortened 2017-18 marketing campaign, by no means flashed the ceiling of a top-tier offensive defenseman.
However was that Ellis’ fault? Since 2013-14, his first full season as an NHLer, his ranks in factors per 60 minutes amongst defensemen who performed 1,000 minutes or extra at 5-on-5 are:
2013-14: 23rd out of 2012014-15: third out of 2042015-16: 38th out of 1982016-17: 48th out of 1972017-18: 2nd out of 2122018-19: 32nd out of 209
So Ellis’ 5-on-5 manufacturing has ranged from excellent to elite in each one in every of his full NHL campaigns thus far. Why, then, hasn’t he churned out 50-point seasons in his sleep? Nicely, Ellis is a right-handed shooter, which suggests he spent his first a number of seasons as a Predator caught behind Mr. Shea Weber and his booming right-handed shot. Then, Weber’s commerce to Montreal returned one other star right-shot offensive blueliner, Mr. P.Okay. Subban.
Ellis’ ranks amongst NHL defensemen (min. 25 video games) in power-play minutes per sport since his first full season:
2013-14: 84th of 2272014-15: 56th of 2242015-16: 58th of 2232016-17: 49th of 2222017-18: 46th of 2312018-19: 47th of 223
Ellis was too good of a puck-mover to not earn power-play time, however he by no means acquired bellcow minutes with the additional man. Throughout Ellis’ NHL profession, the Predators have constantly deployed too many excellent defensemen to depart any one in every of them out on the facility play for the total two minutes.
This previous low season, nonetheless, the Preds traded Subban to the New Jersey Devils to clear $9 million of salary-cap area, most of which they invested in middle Matt Duchene. For the primary time in his profession, Ellis was indisputably the highest right-shot defenseman on his personal workforce. It set him up for a long-awaited breakout season at age 28.
To this point this season: Supernova Ellis has seemingly arrived. He’s rattled off a purpose and 12 factors in his first 10 video games. He’s high three within the league in factors per 60. But he was at all times a pressure at even power, so the explosion in his total statline should be from elevated power-play time, proper?
Nicely, type of. His rank in power-play utilization amongst NHL blueliners up to now this season: 42nd. That’s a profession greatest, as is his 2:30 of power-play time per sport. He does have three assists on the facility play. However, for now, the Preds are deploying 4 forwards on their high power-play unit, with Josi the lone blueliner. Ellis stays relegated to No. 2 responsibility. Is it as a result of he hasn’t been efficient on the facility play or as a result of he’s performed on some weak power-play models? From 2016-17 to 2018-19, amongst D-men with 100 or extra minutes of power-play time, he sat 90th out of 119 in factors per 60, but Nashville as a workforce was additionally 26th in power-play effectivity over that stretch, and Ellis wasn’t getting common runs with the top-unit expertise.
So, then, can we belief 2019-20’s early returns as proof of an Ellis breakout? Since he’s at all times had the expertise to be a premier scorer at his place and he’s seeing a bit extra time with the additional man, it wouldn’t be remotely stunning to see him set profession highs throughout the board. However he’s unlikely to hitch the league’s elite blueline scorers till we see extra important modifications in his utilization. We’d see his first 50-point season, however don’t wager on 60-plus.
Superior stats courtesy of naturalstattrick.comWant extra in-depth options, evaluation and an All-Entry move to the newest content material? Subscribe to The Hockey Information journal.
Tags: superior stats, nashville predators, information, nhlConnect: Concerning the AuthorMatt LarkinMatt Larkin is a senior author at The Hockey Information and has been a part of the workforce since 2011. He is your one-stop store for deep-dive participant interviews, predictions, statistics, fantasy participant rankings, participant security and hair suggestions. Catch him weekly as host of The Hockey Information Stay and The Hockey Information Podcast.

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