The expectation surrounding Ryan Ellis continues to be that he will not play another NHL game. The complex issue that limited him to just four games last season does not appear to be something that will allow him to return, despite the original optimism. So what does this mean for the Flyers?
Right now, Ellis is on the Flyers’ LTIR and is not counting toward the cap. Due to the fact that the team is nowhere close to contending status, they don’t really need the cap relief that he provides by being there. Could they find a team, similar to what the Coyotes have done, to take on his contract?
Apparently, that is something the Flyers have explored. According to Anthony Di Marco of The Fourth Period, Philadelphia is more than open to moving his contract if they can find a willing participant. They do not want to pay any extra assets in order to get a deal down, however.
"“I’ve heard that they’re more than open to bringing back a player who can help them in the short-term but is also making too much money,” Di Marco said. “The Evgeni Dadonov and Shea Weber trade last summer is a good template as to what the Flyers are open to doing, by taking on a short-term, expensive deal that will allow the team they’re trading with to liberate short-term cap space by stashing Ellis on LTIR.”"
Using Arizona as the example, they have worked this out with other teams with players that are likely never to play another game again. They currently have four players on LTIR who have not played a single game for them: Jakub Voracek, Shea Weber, Andrew Ladd, and Bryan Little.
Voracek last played on November 4 for Columbus and could have played his final game due to suffering numerous concussions throughout his career. Weber has not played a game since the end of the 2020-21 season due to a lingering ankle/foot injury. He was traded to the Knights, as mentioned above, and then to the Coyotes. Ladd has not played since the end of the 2021-22 season. Failing his physical prior to that season, he has had lingering knee issues that have kept him out of the lineup. And as for Little, an eardrum issue due to a shot to the side of the head has kept him out since November 2019.
Those are just a few examples of teams being able to trade away contracts of players that have not played in years. So there would likely be a market for the Flyers if they were to look into it. But they do not have a need to trade Ellis’ contract if they don’t find a suitor. In a rebuild for at least the new few seasons, the Flyers could simply keep his contract on LTIR and ride out the final four years of the deal.
Again, using the example that Di Marco laid out, the Flyers could find a way to take back a player that could help them in the now. With the contracts of James van Riemsdyk and likely Kevin Hayes coming off the books, that could be over 10M in extra space, assuming they retain some salary in a Hayes deal that is. It could be closer to 15M if they find a way to unload Hayes’ entire contract. Despite being owed over 24M for the next four years, it helps even more in a possible deal that Ellis’ contract is insured.
But how willing would the Flyers be to take back an expensive contract, even if it’s in the short term? They have plenty of younger players looking to step in and establish themselves in the NHL. The development of those players has been a key point of what the Flyers are doing. Would the organization possibly take away one or even two of those spots by bringing in someone simply so they can unload the Ellis contract?
Unless they truly believe the player they bring in can help in a sustainable way, it feels as if the Flyers are keen to simply hold on to the Ellis contract for the time being. It’s unlikely that he will ever step foot on the ice again, but at this point, that isn’t the concern. Ellis being able to live as normal and healthy of a life as he can is what matters.
The Flyers will certainly try to do what is best for both sides in the end.