With top defensemen getting locked up to big, long-term deals everywhere, one only has to look around the league to see who is next. The most obvious target would be Nashville’s Ryan Ellis, who will be wrapping up the final year of his five-year, $12.5MM deal. Ellis, who is one of the core of Nashville’s talented back end, is one of the most underpaid blueliners in the league at $2.5MM AAV, should be in line for a great extension. After all, many of his defensive teammates are already well-paid, including P.K. Subban ($9MM for four more years), Roman Josi ($4MM for two more years), and Mattias Ekholm ($3.75MM for four more years).
Nashville claims that locking up the 27 year old is the team’s top priority this offseason. Yet little has happened. However, how much is he worth, asks Adam Vingan of the Tennessean? While two of the most significant extensions went to Los Angeles’ Kings Drew Doughty (eight years, $11MM AAV) and Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson (eight years, $8.25MM AAV), Ellis likely doesn’t fit into that category. Therefore, Vingan writes that Nashville must compare Ellis’ play with several other tiers of defenseman that have recently signed new deals. The most likely comparables for Ellis will come down to the recent contracts signed by Washington Capitals’ John Carlson (eight years, $8MM AAV) and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ryan McDonagh (eight years, $6.75MM AAV). However is he as good as those two?
The next tier would be contracts handed out a few years ago that could compare, such as Pittsburgh Penguins’ Kris Letang (eight years, $7.25MM AAV), Erik Johnson (seven years, $6MM AAV) and Anaheim Ducks’ Cam Fowler (eight years, $6.5MM AAV). Ellis’ stats are challenging to look when attempting to compare to any of those defensemen. Offensively, he’s never put up 40 points in a season yet, coming close once with 38 points (16 of those were goals). However, after missing the first half of this past season after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason, Ellis’ stats took a jump when he put up 32 points in 44 games, suggesting that his offense is starting to emerge. With his defense never under question, the Predators must come up with a number soon.
So what range should Ellis fall into?
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