The Philadelphia Flyers are still unsure when Ryan Ellis, their top-pair defenseman, will be back in the lineup nearly two months after he was injured.
According to reportsEllis was able to return to the ice before the NHL-mandated three day holiday break for rehabilitation and was expecting to be back in January. After the holiday break, the team provided more details.
“Making progress,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “It’s still week to week, doing better. He’s been skating a little bit, so that’s progress. He’s feeling better. Once we come out of the break, we’re hopeful that he’ll be closer to playing, but it’s still a week-to-week situation.”
The team has been affected by his absence for eight weeks. Flyers have been in dire need of their top-pair defensive defenseman since losing 10 games.
“One player shouldn’t be enough to sink our team, but Ryan Ellis is an elite puck mover, he’s elite in transition, he would allow us to put everybody in the right chair,” Fletcher, during the team’s 10-game losing streak.
Although it may seem like forever since he last played in a game for the orange or black, his future health is far more important. The Flyers must avoid situations like this one.
Frustrating Times Ahead
The Flyers had originally hoped to have Ellis back in January. However, it does not appear that this will be the case. In an effort to return to the lineup soon after Ellis’s holiday break, he skated indefinitely. Per interim head coach Mike Yeo, the Flyers officially do not have a timeline for Ellis’ return.
“I know Ryan’s frustrated,” Yeo said. “He’s a player that we really miss. He is an extremely, very strong player on both ends of the puck. When you don’t have a guy like that in your lineup, you feel it defensively and you also see it in the execution part of our game. We want to play the game we love. We want to be fast, we want the attack to start, and we want the offensive zone to be open. He’s a guy that helps you do those things.
“It’s tough not having him and I know it’s been a real frustrating time for him. It’s just not making a lot of progress right now, so hopefully something changes there very soon.”
Although the injury was not confirmed by the team it is believed to be in the hip/groin. This area has been an issue for him before, as well as many times throughout his career. It is not surprising that it is again happening. Unfortunately, injuries are a problem for the 31-year-old defenseman.
Ellis was acquired from the Nashville Predators this offseason. He has played only four games for the orange & black, in which he scored five points (1 goal and 4 assists). Ellis is an integral part of the team’s backend success, but only if it is possible for him to stay healthy. The situation is certainly a setback to the season. However, there are no other options than to find a replacement. This has not been done well by the team.
Moving forward without Ellis
The Flyers will need to find a solution for Ellis’s position. Cam York seems to be one option if Ellis cannot return to the Flyers in the coming weeks. York, who is currently with the Flyers taxi squad, has spent most of the season with Lehigh Valley Phantoms. York, a young defenseman, has shown that he is ready for a larger role with the Flyers but still needs to improve his game. Flyers fans have been waiting for the highly-anticipated defenseman since he was selected 14th overall in Round 1 of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
While he might not be the best solution, it is worth taking a chance to help us find the right answer. The team was greatly impressed by his play last season in the three games he played with the club, so it might be worth giving him a shot (from ‘Flyers forwards Kevin Hayes and Morgan Frost removed from COVID-19 protocols; defenseman Cam York recalled from Phantoms,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/28/2021).
“Obviously Yorkie, in seeing what he did for us at the end of the year last year and seeing how his game is progressing and coming along this year and we know what he’s capable of, he’s a guy that we’re comfortable putting in the lineup if that opportunity’s there for him,” Yeo said.
In 21 games, he has recorded eight points with the Phantoms (G, 7A) this season. He is always able to make an impact and get his place in the lineup.
Ellis’ Teammates React to the Situation
Ellis, despite the current situation and the effort to find a replacement for him, is still an important member of the Flyers. His talents quickly made him a favourite among the team and his absence is felt every day.
“Obviously that’s a tough situation for Elly, coming into a new team and not really being able to get going,” said Scott Laughton following Monday’s practice. “I think once you start playing games, that’s when you really get to know the guy and he gets to know us and everything like that.
“We’ve seen him around the rink and try to keep him in the loop. I’ve talked to him quite a bit since Christmas break, too. You should try to reach out whenever you are able and keep him informed. I know he’s watching the games and eager to get back out there.”
The Flyers can only hope that he makes a complete recovery and is back on the ice in the next few weeks. Although the next few weeks will be difficult, the team must continue to hold the team together.
Bobby Bader Jr., a freelance journalist who was born in Philadelphia and raised there, has been covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers ever since the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works for the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator as the team competes in their inaugural season. He is also the Assistant Sports Information Director. Penn State Harrisburg. Bobby can be reached at TwitterHis social media accounts. These photos appear underneath his photo in articles like this.