In the most anticipated transaction of the 2018 off-season — at least in Tennessee — the Nashville Predators have signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year extension worth $50 million ($6.25m AAV). He also gets a $7 million signing bonus on July 1, 2019.
The Hamilton, Ontario native was set to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He still has one year left on his current deal which will pay him just $2.5 million.
“Ryan is a huge part of our team on and off the ice and we are happy to have his leadership remain in our locker room for the foreseeable future,” General Manager David Poile said in a team-issued statement. “We have talked about wanting to keep the core of our team together and this is another opportunity to help us do so while continuing to compete for a Stanley Cup. Ryan is entering his prime and is one of the reasons why we feel this team has a chance to win every time we step on the ice.”
Many around the NHL thought he could’ve commanded more on the open market next summer but Ellis had his sights set on one place: Nashville.
“I wanted something that was fair but I didn’t want to break the bank so we could absolutely keep all these guys together,” the Associate Captain told Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland on 102.5 the Game this morning. “I hope the organization is happy with it and I’m definitely happy with it. Going forward, hopefully it gives us a chance to keep this core group together and continue the success we’ve had and, hopefully, build on it.”
The core Ellis speaks of is, in alphabetical order, Viktor Arvidsson, Mattias Ekholm, Kevin Fiala, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen, captain Roman Josi, Craig Smith, PK Subban and Kyle Turris, all of whom are under the age of 29.
Despite missing the first half of last season due to injury, Ellis posted 32 points in the final 44 games to finish 11th on the team in scoring. No too shabby for a club that ended up winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the League’s best regular season record a single year removed from going to the Stanley Cup Final.
“I think we’re really starting to see everything come together and I wanted to be a part of that,” Ellis said. “Not only for a little bit but for a long time. We couldn’t dream of being anywhere else, not only from the hockey side but from where we live, how great the city is and the fanbase is. It meant a lot for us to stay here a long time.”
With an annual cap hit of $6.25 million, Ellis’ deal is comparable to other talented young blueliners, including his former Windsor Spitfires defense partner Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks.
8 years, $6.25M AAV
Most comparable contracts:
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) August 14, 2018
With Ellis now in the fold for the long term, Nashville fans have to feel great about their chances in the foreseeable future.
“We know how special the group that we have [is],” Ellis said. “One, we want to be together because everyone gets along and has a great time but two, we know we can do something here.”
There was some speculation that Ellis and his camp wanted a No Trade Clause in whatever new deal they would be willing to sign and, conversely, how Poile doesn’t give out NTC’s like other teams do. There was so much discussion about it, Preds Insiders spent an entire first segment on the topic. The new deal does not include one.
“Everyone in every walk of life wants certainty,” Ellis said. “I don’t think it was the biggest sticking point but, in any negotiation, everyone’s going to ask for that. It’s something that every player at every level, really, would want. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t but we got to a deal that we’re both very happy with and I couldn’t be happier with being in Nashville for another nine years.”
With Fiala’s entry level deal up next summer and Josi’s ridiculously affordable contract up after 2019-20, one of the more intriguing things about the interview was the possible foreshadowing mentioned.
“I think a lot of guys are going to follow suit,” Ellis hinted. “Hopefully, if everything works out, we’ll keep this thing together and we’ll keep going in the right direction for many years.”
Music to Predators fans’ ears, to be sure.
You can listen to the entire conversation on Darren & Daunic below.