Flyers actively shopping Ellis to shed contract

Flyers' Ryan Ellis
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 28: Philadelphia Flyers Defenseman Ryan Ellis (94) controls the puck during the first period of the National Hockey League game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers on September 28, 2021 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Ryan Ellis is on the Philadelphia Flyers’ trade block. Well, mostly his contract. Daniel Briere is looking for a trade partner who wants to alleviate cap space while stashing Ellis on long-term injured reserve.

Ellis, unsurprisingly, did not suit up in 2022-2023. He dressed in four games during 2021-2022, where the Flyers were 2-1-1. His injury, described as multi-layered, never allowed a full recovery ahead of training camp last summer.

“It was, more or less, a multi-layered problem. It wasn’t just a one thing fix all. That was the problem, trying to figure out what was going on. It had multiple levels of what the problem was. We have a plan; everyone is very comfortable and happy with the plan.”

Ryan Ellis; 4/30/2022

At the time, it felt like Chuck Fletcher fleeced the Nashville Predators, trading Philippe Myers and the signing rights to Nolan Patrick. In hindsight, the Predators freed $3.7mil. Patrick kicked over to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Myers bounced between the NHL and AHL. Either way, both players spent more time on NHL ice than Ellis with their new franchise.

Yet, here the Flyers are again, hoping to find a dance partner to make a cap management transaction.

The idea is to trade Ellis to another team for a player. Whichever team agrees to the transaction with the Flyers will free a contract position and cap space. Stashing Ellis on LTIR will not go against the salary cap. It could be a win-win trade for both parties, especially for a team hugging close to the limit. Who might dance with Philadelphia in the offseason?

Washington Capitals

Trading within the Metropolitan Division can get dicey. Helping a rival clear cap space is a little more dangerous because of the number of times the Philadelphia Flyers will play them and the implications that could mean on a postseason push.

Who are we kidding? The Flyers aren’t expected to compete for a playoff berth in 2023-2024. Briere already asked for the fanbase’s patience, and John Tortorella advised that next season will be similar to this one.

Both teams missed the postseason, but the Washington Capitals finished five points ahead. Both teams are asking themselves the same question about whether current players fit the timeframe to compete in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here is a trade that could become beneficial almost immediately if a certain Capitals forward doesn’t rebound in 2023-2024.

Anthony Mantha had a down season, entering a contract year. He finished 2022-2023 on a day-to-day status with a lower-body injury. Mantha tallied 27pts (11G, 16A) in 67 games this season. Earning $5.7mil next season, the Capitals could as easily trade him for Ellis while retaining 50% of the money owed to Mantha. Overall, trading Mantha for Ellis’ contract would increase their cap space by $2.85mil.

Washington might be stubborn, holding onto Mantha after a down season. He will be 29 next season, entering a crucial stage of stable production that defines his future with a 25th-ranked NHL team.

Winnipeg Jets

It seems like Blake Wheeler follows the Flyers around the rumor mill. Again, he makes sense, even if he does have the additional M-NTC and NMC in his current contract. To the untrained eye, it seems like a task to maneuver Wheeler to Philadelphia.

It isn’t. Read the room in Winnipeg:

“I’m so disappointed and disgusted right now; that’s my thoughts. No pushback, but it’s the same crap we saw in February. As soon as we were challenging for first place and teams were coming after us, we had no pushback. Their players were so much better than ours, it’s not even close.” 

Rick Bowness; 4/28/2023

The Jets are going through an overhaul, and they’ll want to create cap space.

However, based on the words from Bowness, it doesn’t seem like that roster is a pool that Tortorella and Briere are on board to dive into. The prerequisite in Philadelphia is to play hard, with a high competition level. The Flyers weren’t good in 2022-2023 but didn’t simply go through the motions either. Based on that alone, it could be that Briere, Tortorella, and the future President of Hockey Operations will hold out for a better offer.

It isn’t like the Flyers are contending for anything, so they don’t need immediate relief. Ellis could stay on LTIR next season.

Vancouver Canucks

In this option, the Philadelphia Flyers address a position need for a season while dumping the Ellis contract. It’s ideal because, in a rebuild, you’re seeing what sticks while eliminating an expensive dud. It’s all anyone could ask for in a trade.

Of the teams shortlisted here, the Vancouver Canucks are projected to have the least cap space available. That means Briere can leverage this angle to move Ellis to Vancouver.

Tyler Myers makes a ton of sense. Like the other players on this short list, Myers becomes a free agent at the end of 2023-2024. How quickly a move like this is expedited depends on different factors. The first: will the Canucks want to move Myers? Others are dependent on the Flyers’ roster, especially the impending fate of players like Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo.

If they’re open to trading Myers and there is a possibility that Briere can make Ellis’ contract disappear, it makes absolute sense to aid the Canucks cap situation. By retaining 50% of the $6mil owed in 2023-2024, Vancouver frees $3mil in cap space.

(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)