The Nashville Predators will kick off their exhibition season tonight versus Tampa Bay; however, they’ll have to do it without d-man Ryan Ellis, who remains a restricted free agent.
“This is clearly one of those cases where we want to pay him X and he wants Y,” Preds GM David Poile told ESPN.com today. “We’ve tried to justify our position, they’ve tried to justify their position, and we just disagree. I mean, we’re not trading him. We want him. He really played well at the end of last year. I think with Peter Laviolette’s new system, it plays really well into Ryan’s game. The sooner we get it done, the better it will be for everybody.”
Laviolette, of course, was hired in the offseason to replace Barry Trotz. One of the Predators’ main objectives in hiring the veteran coach was to play a more “fun” style of hockey, i.e. more focus on creating offense, less on stifling the opponent through defense.
A prolific point-producer in junior, Ellis was drafted 11th overall in 2009 after piling up 89 points in 57 games for OHL Windsor. Hence, Poile’s belief he could do well under Laviolette.
Now 23, last season was Ellis’ first as a full-time NHLer; he played 80 games for the Preds, scoring six goals with 21 assists.
By March, Ellis was regularly logging 20 minutes per game, as opposed to earlier in the season when he typically played between 10 and 15.