The Predators and top defenseman Ryan Ellis have agreed to an eight-year, $50 million contract extension, the team announced Tuesday. The deal, first reported by TSN, locks in one of the top blue liners in the NHL at a $6.25 million cap hit through the 2026-27 season.
Ellis, 27, was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season when his underpriced deal expires. Instead, he’ll stick with the Predators for the long haul on a contract that looks like a potential bargain compared to the $8.25 million and $8 million cap hits received on extensions this summer by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and John Carlson, respectively.
The new contract will go into effect starting with the 2019-20 season. He will make $3.5 million (with a $2.5 million cap hit) on the final year of his current deal.
Underlying statistics point to Ellis as one of the top defensemen in the NHL. On the surface, he’s recorded three straight seasons with 30-plus points and played around 23-24 minutes per game in the past two seasons. He’s also posted positive shot attempt numbers throughout his career and performed well in the postseason.
Injuries limited Ellis to just 44 games last season, but he played excellent hockey upon returning with nine goals and 23 assists. That’s a pace of nearly 60 points per 82 games if he kept up for an entire season, which would be a significant step up in offensive production for him.
The Predators now have their full defensive top four of Ellis, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm signed for the next two seasons. Josi’s deal expires in 2020, then Subban and Ekholm’s deals will expire in 2022.