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Flyers Trade Grades: Chuck Fletcher fills biggest need with Ryan Ellis acquisition



Ryan Ellis Flyers

Chuck Fletcher has gone to work this offseason. So far, he’s made four trades and acquired three players to help bolster the Flyers roster. Ryan Ellis was the first of those three players added just over a week ago.

With the dust settled from NHL Draft weekend and a few days before free agency starts on Wednesday, I wanted to take a look back at each trade. What did the Flyers give up, what did they get, and, most importantly, how did the Flyers fare in the trade?

Let’s get into these Flyers trade grades.

July 17th: Flyers trade Myers & Patrick for Ellis

In: Ryan Ellis

Out: Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick

Chuck Fletcher made the first big splash of the offseason just over a week ago. With the Flyers in the market for a top-pair defenseman, Fletcher went out and got his guy.

Ryan Ellis the perfect fit for Flyers

Ellis, a 30-year-old right-handed defenseman, is the perfect fit for the Flyers blue line. In hindsight, Ellis was the guy for the Flyers to target.

Ryan Ellis is under contract for the next six seasons at a $6.25 million cap hit. That number is significantly less than what Seth Jones received from Chicago ($9.5 million) and Dougie Hamilton‘s price may be even higher than that. For the Flyers, six years of Ellis at that cap hit fits very well into their plans.

Not only is Ellis a great fit in terms of the salary cap, but he’s a fantastic fit on the ice as well. Ivan Provorov needs a right-handed partner that has experience playing a lot of minutes in all situations. He had that with Matt Niskanen in the 2019-20 season but the Flyers failed to fill that gap last offseason.

This offseason, however, Fletcher isn’t taking any chances. He made sure to go out and get a proven top-pair defenseman to pair with Provorov. Ellis averaged over 23 minutes a game in each of the last five seasons. It’s safe to assume that Ellis will average at least 23 minutes per game for the Flyers.

“Well, Ryan is an excellent all-around defenseman. In our opinion, he is 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,” Fletcher said. “He’s been part of the leadership group in Nashville for a while. He’s a competitive, team-oriented type of player. 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.”

There is some hesitation with Ellis due to an upper-body injury last season. Reports surfaced that Ellis had a shoulder injury. However, Ellis revealed that he had a broken knuckle –– that is now healed –– and never had shoulder issues.

Flyers trade potential for experience

In acquiring Ellis, the Flyers were forced to part with two of their struggling young players.

“It was very difficult” to trade Myers and Patrick, Fletcher said. “We certainly were not looking to move them.”

“Phil Myers is a young man who is going to be a real good defenseman in this league for a long time. I still believe in Patty. Last year, I thought, was a step forward for him in terms of his health and getting back on the ice. I think the production will come and the confidence will come as he continues in his career,” he continued. “As you said, you have to give to get”

Nolan Patrick dealt with concussions and migraine issues throughout his time in Philadelphia. He was healthy last season and played in 52 of 56 games. But he only had four goals and nine points. A change of scenery was reportedly requested by Patrick and it was needed. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft may still have a bright future ahead of him, but that wasn’t going to come in Philadelphia.

While Patrick tries to shake the “bust” label he’s gotten, Philippe Myers is on the other end of the spectrum. Ron Hextall and the Flyers signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He worked his way up the prospect ladder and looked like he had top-pair potential. He showed flashes of second-pair potential with Travis Sanheim in the 2019-20 season, but the tall right-handed defenseman struggled last season. Alain Vigneault gave him opportunities to take the top-pair role and run with it, but Myers could never find his footing.

Myers may end up finding his game again and hitting his top-four ceiling. The Flyers didn’t want to take that risk, though. Instead, they traded him for a proven top-pair defenseman in Ellis. Myers could eventually play 20+ minutes a night as Ellis does, but the veteran defenseman fits the Flyers’ timeline much better. They need to win now and Ellis helps them do that.

Trade Grade: A+

Flyers Trade Grades: Rasmus Ristolainen a high-priced gamble by Chuck Fletcher

Flyers Trade Grades: Fletcher gets shoot-first penalty-killing winger in Cam Atkinson

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