Flyers Shifting Their Focus on Predators Defensemen: Could Ryan Ellis Be a Target?

Photo credit: © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

A couple weeks ago on the Snow the Goalie  podcast, I reported on a rumored trade in which I heard the Flyers were involved.

It had to do with the Nashville Predators and widely rumored defenseman Mattias Ekholm. I had also heard the Flyers were interested in Viktor Arvidsson.

There was a package of picks and players being thrown about. It made sense at the time. The Flyers needed help on defense and Arvidsson would add to the scoring depth of a playoff contending team.

Then something happened – the Flyers went into a bit of a swoon.

The slippage had them from being a surefire playoff team to one on the outside looking in trying mightily to get back into the race.

The defense got worse. The goaltending, even more so. Suddenly, the Flyers looked nothing like a team that could win a playoff game against a good team, let alone get into the postseason dance.

Fans screamed for GM Chuck Fletcher to do something – and he likely still will. But now, the focus is shifting.

I received a text from a good source yesterday that the Flyers were switching gears and now thinking long-term and not just a quick fix to salvage this strange, yet frustrating season.

They were still talking to Nashville – and the fact that the Predators have sent scouts to three recent Phantoms games in the AHL is evidence of that – but instead of talking about Ekholm, they were now looking at another defenseman – Ryan Ellis.

The information from this source is usually spot on, but without being able to confirm it through a team source, I couldn’t run with it. It’s the nature of the beast sometimes.

Then today, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet in Canada published his always excellent 31 thoughts column and leads with the notion of this very trade.

So, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

And.. it makes a lot of sense.

Ellis is signed for six more years at $6.25 million. He’s a right-shot defenseman. He’s the kind of guy, even at 30 years of age, who you can plug next to Ivan Provorov for 24 minutes a night and not have to worry.

He’s an excellent defensive defenseman who solves a long-term problem.

And while the Flyers would be “buying” at the deadline if they traded for Ellis, it’s not really a move for this year. Ellis is out 4-6 weeks currently after undergoing shoulder surgery in early March.

He will be back this season, but it might be at a point that is too late to help the Flyers now.

But help the Flyers later? Absolutely.

The Flyers would likely have to part with a high draft pick, a prospect and an NHL salary to offset some of this (Gostisbehere?), but it would be a move that would benefit the future of the organization.

So, if the Flyers don’t take advantage of these next five games against the Devils, Rangers and Sabres, might they also be deadline sellers as well?

That answer is also a yes.

James van Riemsdyk may never have more value than he does right now after this start to the season he’s having. Could a team who is not worried about protecting him during the Seattle expansion draft in the summer trade an asset for him to help their power play (Vegas makes a lot of sense)? Lose that salary and wash Ghost’s salary in the deal for Ellis, now the Flyers have more money to play with in the offseason.

Can you expose Jake Voracek in the expansion draft? Maybe really free up cap room to make a run at free agents or be able to trade for talented players on teams that are having a hard time managing the salary cap:

Minnesota isn’t the only team who is in Cap hell. Go to CapFriendly.com. Play around with each team and see what next season looks like. It’s a mess for a lot of teams.

If the Flyers do the things above, they don’t have to be one of them.

Of course, this still remains speculative, and a lot can change between now and April 12. And yes, we will finally hear from Chuck tomorrow, but for now – this is how they are thinking.

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts   

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