Chuck Fletcher on Ryan Ellis: “We need to make sure he’s ready for next year”

The offseason acquisition of veteran defenseman Ryan Ellis was a move that looked to be one of the best made by the Philadelphia Flyers in recent seasons, however things haven’t turned out the way that Ellis or the Flyers front office and coaching staff would’ve imagined.

Ellis remains sidelined due to a lower-body injury and could be effectively ruled out for the remainder of the season by Flyers GM and President Chuck Fletcher. The Flyers acquired Ellis last summer in a trade with the Nashville Predators, sending young talents in Nolan Patrick and Philippe Myers in the other direction.

Since his arrival in Philadelphia, Ellis has only made four appearances for the Orange and Black before a hip/groin issue has kept him on the sidelines. Ellis has continued to practice and prepare for a role at some stage of the regular season, but with the Flyers moving further away from the playoff places, the smart decision might be to keep him out of the lineup so he can be 100% ready for the 2022-23 campaign.

“If Ryan does have surgery, whether it was two months ago or now, it’ll knock him out for the season,” Fletcher said Friday in a press conference with reporters. “We’ve been trying to avoid surgery and look at different ways of rehabbing and treatment to allow him to play. We’re starting to get to a point in the year though where obviously his health is first and foremost and the second issue would be making sure he’s ready for next year. We’re getting close to that point. I just spoke with Ryan about twenty minutes ago and he’s worked hard. He’s done everything he can. We’ll see where we’re at, but in the next few weeks, we’ll have to make a decision.”

“It’s been terrible for him,” Fletcher added about Ellis. “We go on the road and he stays behind. He comes in early to get his rehab done, so you don’t even feel like you’re part of the team. I know there’s been a lot of frustration from Ryan. What’s ailing him this year hasn’t ailed him before, so it’s hard to know how these things happen. He’s dealing with it the best he can. Again, at this point really our focus is on next year, trying to do what’s best for him and for our club going forward.”

Ellis’ absence hasn’t helped the Flyers on the blue line this season, with the team sitting among the top ten worst defensive units in the league. The Orange and Black have allowed 154 goals so far this regular season while the team’s 3.35 GAA (goals against average) is ranked as the eighth-highest in the league. Injuries and COVID-19 protocols haven’t helped Mike Yeo’s plans at all, but every team in the league has overcome adversity at some stage of the season.

The 31-year-old is a major loss for the team this season as the wheels continue to sputter for the Flyers in the second half of the season. Ellis might not play another minute for the team this season, but it could be an important decision to have the 11-year veteran fully ready to go next fall.

“Again, Ryan only played 4 games for us,” Fletcher said. “I thought three of those four games, he and Provorov played really well. Provorov’s game without him has been okay, but it looked like they had the ability to have good chemistry. He’s an all-situation player. He plays power play and penalty kill, plays late in a game when you’re up a goal, late in a game when you’re down a goal. He’s an impactful player when he’s healthy and playing to his ability. We’ll have to use the limits we have. If he and Provy guide us to what we think they can bring next year, it makes it a little bit more challenging.”

The Flyers for now will continue to keep their slim playoff hopes alive as they travel to face the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon.

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at [email protected].

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