Flyers add defenseman Ellis, forward Atkinson after missing playoffs


After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, the Philadelphia Flyers:

2020-21 season: 25-23-8, sixth in MassMutual East Division; did not qualify for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Key arrivals

Ryan Ellis, D: The 30-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators for defenseman Philippe Myers and forward Nolan Patrick on July 17. Ellis scored 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 35 regular-season games and five points (one goal, four assists) in six Stanley Cup Playoff games last season. … Rasmus Ristolainen, D: The 26-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on July 23 for defenseman Robert Hagg, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft (Isak Rosen) and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. Ristolainen scored 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 49 games last season. … Cam Atkinson, F: The 32-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Jakub Voracek on July 24. Atkinson scored 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games last season. … Martin Jones, G: The 31-year-old signed a one-year contract July 28. He was 15-13-4 with a 3.28 goals-against average and .896 save percentage in 34 games last season with the San Jose Sharks, who bought out the final three seasons of his six-year contract July 27. … Keith Yandle, D: The 34-year-old signed a one-year contract July 28. He scored 27 points (three goals, 24 assists) in 56 regular-season games and had two assists in three playoff games last season with the Florida Panthers, who bought out the final two seasons of his seven-year contract July 15. Yandle has played 922 consecutive regular-season games, the second longest streak in NHL history, behind Doug Jarvis (964 games). … Nate Thompson, F: The 36-year-old signed a one-year contract July 28 after he scored five points (two goals, three assists) in 44 regular-season games and had two assists in eight playoff games with the Winnipeg Jets last season.

Key departures

Jakub Voracek, F: He scored 43 points (nine goals, 34 assists) in 53 games last season. … Shayne Gostisbehere, D: He was traded to the Arizona Coyotes, along with two picks in the 2022 NHL Draft, for future considerations July 22. Gostisbehere scored 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 41 games last season. … Philippe Myers, D: He scored 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 44 games last season. … Nolan Patrick, F: The No. 2 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, Patrick scored nine points (four goals, five assists) in 52 games last season. … Brian Elliott, G: He signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 28 after going 15-9-2 with a 3.06 GAA, .889 save percentage and two shutouts in 30 games (26 starts) last season. … Robert Hagg, D: He scored five points (two goals, three assists) in 34 games last season.

On the cusp

Cam York, D: The 20-year-old signed a three-year, entry-level contract March 31. He was team captain for the United States when it finished first at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year at the University of Michigan. York scored five points (two goals, three assists) in eight games with Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League and averaged 19:47 of ice time in three games with the Flyers. … Egor Zamula, D: The 21-year-old had six assists in 25 games with Lehigh Valley and averaged 17:04 of ice time in two games with the Flyers.

What they still need

Consistency on defense. After allowing an NHL-high 3.52 goals per game last season, the Flyers rebuilt their defensemen corps, adding Ellis, Ristolainen and Yandle and subtracting Gostisbehere, Myers and Hagg. Ellis is expected to fill some of the holes left by Matt Niskanen’s retirement after the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Ristolainen adds size and physicality. The improved play from the defensemen could lead to better production from goalies Carter Hart and Jones.

They said it

“We just can’t keep bringing the same players back year after year and expect different results. We had to make changes this year. The players that we’ve added are all what I would call high-energy, competitive people. … We need to change the mood in the room and the energy in the room. It’s nothing against the players that we had here before. It’s about trying to create a new group, a new leadership group, new chemistry.” — general manager Chuck Fletcher

Fantasy focus

Ellis is poised to play on the top defense pair with Ivan Provorov after being acquired from the Predators; each player is ranked among the top 30 fantasy options at the position. Ellis ranks 27th among NHL defensemen in points (199 in 360 games) and fourth in plus/minus (plus-94) since 2015-16. The biggest beneficiary of the Ellis trade could be Hart, who is coming off his worst NHL save percentage (.877 last season; .917 in 2018-19; .914 in 2019-20) but has renewed fantasy bounce-back appeal. — Pete Jensen

Projected lineup

Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny

Joel FarabeeKevin Hayes — Cam Atkinson

James van RiemsdykScott LaughtonWade Allison

Oskar Lindblom — Nate Thompson — Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Ivan Provorov — Ryan Ellis

Travis Sanheim — Rasmus Ristolainen

Keith Yandle — Justin Braun

Carter Hart

Martin Jones

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top