Flyers make stunner of a trade to land a top-pair defenseman


Chuck Fletcher has shaken things up.

Just ahead of Saturday's NHL trade and waiver freeze 3 p.m. ET deadline for the expansion draft, the Flyers acquired defenseman Ryan Ellis from the Predators in exchange for Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick. Patrick was then traded from Nashville to the Golden Knights for Cody Glass.

Ellis is an experienced, top-pair, righty-shot defenseman who will play alongside Ivan Provorov. The 30-year-old is under contract for the next six seasons with an annual cap hit of $6.250 million.

Fletcher said the Flyers had a "longtime interest" in Ellis and that he "checks a lot of boxes" for the club.

"Ryan is an excellent, all-around defenseman," the Flyers' general manager said Saturday. "In our opinion, he's one of the best passers in the game on the blue line. He's great in transition, he can play the power play, he's got a heavy shot and he's a very good penalty killer.

"He had been part of the leadership group in Nashville for a while. He's a competitive, team-oriented type of player. For us, we think he's a really well-rounded hockey player, a quality person and somebody that we feel very fortunate that we were able to add to our group today."

Over the last six seasons, Ellis has 199 points (55 goals, 144 assists) in 360 games. In that span, his plus-94 rating is fourth best among all NHL defensemen, behind only Ryan McDonagh (plus-112), Victor Hedman (plus-112) and Zdeno Chara (plus-105).

In 2020-21, Ellis had 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) over 35 games and played the second-most minutes per game on the Predators at 23:46. Ellis missed all of March because of an upper-body injury that required surgery. During the playoffs, Ellis played over 25 minutes per game and had five points (one goal, four assists) through six games.


More: Why the Flyers traded Patrick and Myers for their new top-pair defenseman

"Overall, just surprised, shocked and at the same time, excited," Ellis said about the trade, via Flyers senior director of communications Zack Hill. "New challenge and new chapter."

The trade of Patrick could now allow the Flyers to protect James van Riemsdyk in Wednesday's expansion draft.

Update: After the Ellis trade, a bit of a surprise with the Flyers' protected list

Patrick was the second overall selection in the 2017 draft. The 22-year-old center had a rough season (four goals, five assists, minus-30 rating) a year after missing all of 2019-20 as he battled a migraine disorder.

Myers was an undrafted discovery of the Flyers, a 6-foot-5 defenseman who had climbed the club's prospect rankings. With prospects Cam York and Egor Zamula in the wings, it was possible the Flyers would dangle the 24-year-old Myers this offseason. They ended up doing so to fill a big hole.

The Flyers desperately needed to a top-pair defenseman. They didn't fill the void left by Matt Niskanen's retirement last offseason and ended up surrendering more goals than any other team in hockey at 3.52 per game. As a result, the Flyers missed the playoffs a year after they fell one win short of the Eastern Conference Final.

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