Leading up to the lockout-shortened season, we will be providing 2012-13 previews for each player. In no specific order, we continue with Ryan Ellis today…
After playing 29 games in Milwaukee, Ryan Ellis, the Predators’ top prospect, got called up to the NHL in December. Playing in a limited yet defined role, Ellis’ first taste of the NHL as a whole was viewed as a success. While there were the standard growing pains, Ellis showed glimpses why he has a bright future. In 32 games he scored three goals and chipped in 11 points while logging just shy of 15 minutes of ice time per game.
Ellis’ biggest moment as a rookie was scoring a game-winning goal on Feb. 14 against rival Chicago. The well-decorated juniors prospect also cracked the lineup three times in the playoffs, Games 3 through 5 against Detroit.
Ellis sustained a broken wrist in September and was held out of Milwaukee’s lineup until late November. He collected nine points in 20 games, a lower points-per-game average than his 18 points in 29 AHL games last season.
Ellis will be one of a handful of call-ups from Milwaukee. It will be interesting to see how Ellis, 22, adjusts to his second NHL stint (though it technically won’t be his first full NHL season). He wasn’t overly impressive in Milwaukee this season. Was he bored with AHL competition? Did the wrist injury set him back?
As of September, the pint-sized Ellis was expected to skate alongside the towering Hal Gill; I don’t know why things would have changed between now and then. Gill’s presence in the defensive zone could allow Ellis to open up more offensively, especially if he gains confidence early on in the shortened season. Perhaps Ellis will be given more time on the power play, more freedom to utilize his skills. Since he is already in game shape, he could see more ice time at the beginning of the year than the end.
Ellis’ long-term development is important for the Predators, but I wouldn’t expect him (or Roman Josi) to make up for Suter’s absence in the immediate future.