The Flyers didn’t wait for the NHL draft or free agency to make their first personnel move, acquiring defenseman Ryan Ellis from Nashville on Saturday.
With Ellis now in the fold, the defensive core will surely have a much different look. The trade could be the first of a number of moves aimed at stabilizing the blue line after the Flyers finished dead last in the NHL in goals allowed last season.
The move fulfills the team’s need for a right defenseman, but that’s hardly its only need. With the looming possibility of losing another defenseman in the upcoming expansion draft, the D-core still likely remains a work in progress. Defense remains a priority this offseason.
“We are certainly going to look at every avenue to get better We weren’t good enough last year," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Saturday. “Adding Ryan is an upgrade and a step in the right direction. We’re not going to get complacent and we’ll do what we can to upgrade where we can.”
Within the next two weeks, we’ll likely know exactly what the Flyers' lineup of defensemen will look like. While there will be at least one new face in Ellis, there will also be significant pressure on the returning defensemen after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign.
“The primary focus going into next year will be reducing our goals against, and part of that will be looking outside to help, but we also have to have a pretty big focus as a team on playing the right way,” Fletcher said.
“We need a lot of our returning players to be better, quite frankly.”
Earlier this week, Fletcher said it’s likely that most of the player movement around the league, whether through free agency or trades, would happen over the next two weeks. With the Flyers making a splash in the trade market this weekend, things are certainly underway.
In terms of moves going forward, it seems the question is not an if as much as a when and how.
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