Fourteen years ago, also over the summer (in what would turn out to be a very busy offseason for the Flyers), a trade was made by the Flyers for a veteran Nashville Predators defenseman. For the shrewd price of only a first round pick (who would turn out to be Jonathon Blum, who only played 110 NHL games), the Flyers acquired a defenseman who would become a franchise icon, and who would help lead them all the way to multiple Eastern Conference Finals appearances, and even to a Stanley Cup Final. Of course, the player in question is Kimmo Timonen.
The Flyers will certainly be hoping that their newly acquired defenseman and another former Predator, Ryan Ellis, will have a similar if not greater impact on this hockey club. Better yet, one can even argue the price paid for his services is even shrewder.
Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher didn’t even have to part ways with any draft picks in this eventual three-team deal. Ryan Ellis moves to the Flyers as Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick head to Nashville. Shortly after, Patrick was flipped to Vegas by Nashville for Cody Glass.
It’s a move that almost makes too much sense, but equally, feels unbelievable considering how little the Flyers have ultimately given up to acquire a player who many feel is an elite defenseman in the NHL. It isn’t even borderline whether Ellis is an elite blue-liner in this league, in honesty. His statistical profile backs that up:
And here we go! The Philadelphia Flyers have acquired Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators. Ellis has been one of the best defensemen in the NHL in the last ~5 years. We're waiting for more details. pic.twitter.com/aHTmSNmH8o— Andy & Rono (@HockeyStatsCZ) July 17, 2021
Additionally, the protection slot in the expansion draft that the Flyers were presumably going to use on Myers can now be used on Ellis. His $6.25 million dollar cap hit contact, which lasts through the 2026-27 season, is also both manageable, and probably under what his actual value would entail (at least for now).
Ellis at RD seems like the perfect partner for Ivan Provorov, both for the Flyers’ immediate future and for Provorov in his long term outlook. Ellis can almost certainly provide the steadiness that Matt Niskanen did on Provorov’s pair, and then some. His elite level, two-way, game should allow Provorov to express himself more offensively, perhaps feel more at ease, not having to worry about mistakes as much. In his press conference after the trade, Fletcher even admitted as much.
On Ellis filling The Niskanen Role: They're different players but have some similarities. "Checks a lot of the same boxes that Nisky did," also says Ellis has a little more offense in his game but calls them both very good two-way defensemen.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) July 17, 2021
Pivoting back, the Flyers get a player of this calibre at a solid cap hit for only two players.
Myers, 24, has a promising future in the NHL. It is an entirely plausible scenario that he becomes a good top four defenseman in the league. However, inconsistency and occasional baffling mistakes left his outlook muddled in the eyes of some. When you want to trade for a player such as Ryan Ellis, you have to give up somebody with a potential future, and for the Predators, they will be hoping that Myers is that player.
As for Nolan Patrick, it was clear that he wasn’t happy in Philadelphia, and it appears the front office was more than happy to move on from him. In the end, he struggled while a Flyer, and his eventual move to Vegas reunites him with Kelly McCrimmon (Vegas’ GM) who coached Patrick in juniors. A change of scenery seems to be exactly what Patrick could need to succeed in the NHL. While his outlook, and probable ceiling, is that of a third line center, he could still carve out a regular slot in a team’s lineup, and we wish Patrick the best.
For two players who can be considered “wild cards”, Chuck Fletcher has really flexed his muscles with this trade. Ellis has obviously yet to play a game in Philadelphia, but this move is a shrewd piece of business by Fletcher and overall is simply an excellent trade from the Flyers’ perspective. The Flyers, in the end, gain an experienced #1 defenseman with the assets given up being a player who they wanted to move on from, and a defenseman with an uncertain future.
Well in, Chuck.