There was no question the Nashville Predators were leaning hard into the sellers market this season.

Now, with the loss of Ryan Ellis for up to 4-6 weeks, they may be forced into selling at the trade deadline, which comes on April 12th.

The Nashville Predators announced yesterday that Ryan Ellis would be out with an upper body injury, along with Luke Kunin and Ryan Johansen. Kunin has a lower body injury that will see him out for 2-4 weeks. Ryan Johansen is in COVID protocol, which means his timeline is unclear. NHL stipulates that Johansen must have at least two negative test results at least 48 hours apart before he can rejoin the team.

The loss of Kunin and Johansen are not insignificant, especially Johansen, who played well in his return after a recent injury. But the loss of Ryan Ellis is a huge roadblock in the way of the Predators getting back into playoff contention.

Ryan Ellis was a top contributor

Why is Ryan Ellis such a big loss? Just look at some of his contributions to the team already this season.

Ellis is currently 4th on the team in scoring with nine points in 21 games. He’s second on the team in average ice time at 24:39 per game, behind only his partner Roman Josi at 25:23 per game.

Offensively, Ellis makes a huge impact. When he’s on the ice, the Preds see a half goal increase in their expected goal output per sixty minutes:

Ryan Ellis
5v5 offensive impact for Ryan Ellis from @ineffectivemath

He’s no slouch defensively either. Here’s a glance at Ellis’ rank on the team in some key defensive analytics (minimum 100 even strength minutes):

  • Shot attempts allowed per hour: 5th
  • Shots allowed per hour: 8th
  • Shots blocked per hour: 4th
  • Takeaways per hour: 11th

Ellis is an excellent decision maker in both the offensive and defensive zones. More often than not, when the Preds are reeling, Ryan Ellis makes plays to help them recover.

Now the Preds will have to rely on replacement level players like Ben Harpur or young defensive prospects like Alexandre Carrier to carry the load.

Tough Preds schedule upcoming

Even with Ryan Ellis in the lineup, the Preds were going to be in for a tough March.

Take a look at how many times they play the top teams in the Central division between now and April 1st:

  • Dallas Stars – 4 games
  • Florida Panthers – 4 games
  • Tampa Bay Lightning – 2 games
  • Carolina Hurricanes 2 games

That’s 12 games against some of the best teams in their division. The Preds are 1-9-0 against those four teams so far, so this isn’t really a subjective take. The Stars, Panthers, Lightning, and Hurricanes are objectively better than the Predators.

Now that Ryan Ellis is out, the Preds find themselves further shorthanded against excellent teams. The likelihood that they are able to even go .500 against those teams is very low, and I think losing at least 10 of those games is a very real possibility.

If the Nashville Predators end the month of March with at least 10 more losses, which would put them around 14 wins and 22 losses on the season, the front office will have no other option than to sell at the April 12th deadline.

— Advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick. Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —
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