A Nashville Predators team that has put together a two-game winning streak to get right back in the thick of the playoff chase made a bit of a curious move on Monday, sending young defenseman Ryan Ellis down to the AHL. Ellis had played in 31 games for the Predators this season, and was expected to have a big role in replacing Ryan Suter on the blue line. The main reason for the move, was to make room for forward Patric Hornqvist to return from injured reserve, but Ellis seems like an odd choice for the demotion.
Ellis will join Craig Smith with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals after the forward was assigned on a conditioning stint earlier this week.. For the time being, Victor Bartley and Jonathon Blum remain with the Predators, and the return of Hal Gill likely played a role in moving Ellis as well. Ellis had two goals and six points this season, but unfortunately he doesn’t have a single point in the past 17 games. Those numbers aren’t far off from the three goals and 11 points he had in 32 games with the Predators last season but the wall he seems to have hit in the past six weeks is disturbing. It remains to be seen if this move has a deeper purpose behind it, but maybe it will provide him with some motivation to work towards a quick return to the top level.
The Predators selected Ellis with the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and he has been impressive at every level on his way to the NHL up until this season. The team’s coaching staff and management seem to be sending a message lately, and if it connects it could be just the spark their players need.