The Nashville Predators picked Ryan Ellis, an 18 year old puck moving defenseman from Freelton, Ontario, with the eleventh pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft in Montreal. Ellis is a member of the Windsor Spitfires team in the Ontario Hockey League that won the 2009 Memorial Cup title.
Nashville General Manager David Poile was ecstatic with the pick saying, "This was the guy that we wanted to get." Further he said, "Ellis is a very dynamic player and probably the best puck handling defenseman in this year's draft."
Ellis is targeted as a player that will be able to run the power play for the Predators. Poile explained, "We are always looking for offense and Ellis is as good as they come on the defensive side of the puck."
With two years of Junior Hockey eligibility remaining, Poile expects that Ellis will transition from the Junior level, to Minor Pro level and on to the NHL.
Ryan Ellis was coached at Windsor's by ex-Predator, Bob Boughner who was named the OHL Coach of the Year after Windsor won the Memorial Cup this past season.
In 2008-2009, Ellis scored 89 points in 57 games including 22 goals and 67 assists. In the playoffs he scored 8 goals and added 23 assists in 20 games on the way to the Junior Hockey title.
When asked about being a Predator Ellis said, "It's very exciting. I didn't quite expect it. I couldn't be happier. It's a great place to play hockey and grow up, and I'm very excited to be headed to Nashville."
Ellis admitted to knowing little about the city other than what Boughner had told him which was "that that the people were real nice and they have country music."
Ellis has been criticized due to his small stature, standing 5"10" and weighing 175 pounds. Ellis doesn't consider his size to be an issue saying, "I like to lay a hit when I can and mix it up physically. It's really more about positioning."
When asked to describe his game, Ellis responded, "I'm an offensive defenseman. But I think someone who I compare myself to is Brian Rafalski, or Brian Campbell, one of the two. They are smaller guys, but they compete physically and they are offensive and very responsible on their own end, as well. I think that's who I would like to be compared to anyway."
Poile said that the fact that Ellis has been a winner at every level played a big part in his development and the Pred's interest in him. The Predators are trying to build a winning attitude at every level and Ellis will be a part of that.
According to Poile, prior to the Predator's pick, the draft played out exactly as they had expected. After the Predators took Ellis with the eleventh pick, Minnesota, who was up next, took a time out and traded their pick to the Islanders as the Wild were set to pick Ellis had he been available.
When asked about day two of the draft, Poile said that he expects to see more movement among teams. The Predators have eleven total picks remaining in rounds two through seven and do not expect to use all of them. Poile says that trades are possible that will bring players to the Predators or move some picks forward to next year's draft.
Poile indicated that decisions will be made based on whether a person on their list of wanted players is available when the Pred's pick comes up. Several other teams have salary concerns and may be willing to move players in exchange for picks.
The remainder of the draft on Saturday, will move much quicker as there will only be a couple of minutes between each of the remaining 181 picks.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass
Photo courtesy of windsorspitfires.com