Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis, who played in just four games last season because of a pelvic injury, is making strides in his rehab, but general manager Chuck Fletcher said he isn’t sure he will be ready for training camp.
“He’s continuing to progress,” Fletcher said during a news conference Wednesday in Voorhees that centered around the upcoming NHL draft. “He’s certainly improved since the end of the season. He’s certainly further along now than he was a month ago or two months ago.”
That sounded like a positive.
But it was tinged with some doubt.
“In saying that, the bulk of his rehab is still ahead of him,” Fletcher said. “He’s starting to intensify his off-ice workouts. Again, it’s going well, but there are several more steps to before he gets on the ice. So it’s still difficult, if not impossible, to predict where he’ll be in two or three months. The last month has been encouraging, but there’s still more work to do.”
Fletcher said it was unknown whether Ellis, 31, would be ready for training camp in September. Ellis, a top-pairing defenseman, was the Flyers’ top off-season acquisition last year.
“I don’t know how anyone can predict that right now,” Fletcher said when asked if Ellis would participate in camp. “That’s certainly the hope and the goal, but we’ll have to see. He’s starting to ramp up the rehab, which is great, but we’ll just have to see how everything responds.”
The GM said he was hopeful of getting a better picture “within the next month” on where Ellis stands in his rehab. If it looks like he will miss time, Fletcher will probably try to add a veteran defenseman.
According to Fletcher, Ellis is working on strengthening “almost everything in the middle of the body. Trying to put all the pieces back together so to speak. Again, he’s made progress. He is determined to get back and not just play but be a good hockey player. Be the player we wanted him to be when we acquired him. He was probably the most excited player coming into training camp last year after he got over the initial shock of coming from Nashville.”
Fletcher said Ellis spent “hour after hour with Ivan Provorov” at last year’s training camp. “They had breakfast together. They talked together before practice. They were obviously partners on the ice. They had lunch together. He wanted to get to know Ivan so well that they would build this chemistry as quickly as they could, on and off the ice. … and then his world came crashing down.”
Fletcher said left winger Joel Farabee was injured two weeks ago in his first formal workouts of the summer. That caused him to have neck surgery.
“He was warming up with light weights on the bench press, and he felt — I think he called it some sort of pinching sensation in his neck area,” Fletcher said. “So he was able to see a doctor in the Syracuse area.”
Four days later, he had surgery.
“Extremely unlucky and unfortunate,” Fletcher said. “I think we moved as quickly as we could as soon as we found out he had issues.”
The hope is he that Farabee is ready for the start of the season.
“‘Whether it’s three months or four months (from now), at the end of the day, if he’s ready for Game 1, great. If he misses five, six, seven games, and we can push him a little further, that might make sense, too,” Fletcher said. “We’ll make every decision with him based on his long-term health.”
Assistant GM Brent Flahr said Farabee told him his shoulder, which was injured during the season, “felt 100 percent when he started working out.” Fletcher didn’t think the shoulder injury was related to the neck problem.
Farabee, 22, had the same surgery that was performed to Jack Eichel, who returned to play for Vegas a little over three months later. Eichel had 25 points, including 14 goals, in 34 games.
In another matter, Fletcher said centers Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes, each of whom had injury-plagued seasons, are doing well in their early summer-training sessions.