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Ellis to miss start of season for Predators after knee surgery

Defenseman could be skating in three weeks, return around 'new year,' GM says

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis is recovering from knee surgery and will miss the start of the regular season.

"In discussions with our doctors at this time, they would like to take it a little bit slower with his recovery," Predators general manager David Poile said Thursday. "The initial prognosis on this type of a knee injury is 4-6 months, and right now we feel, and the doctor feels, it's going to take the full six months for him to recover."

Ellis, 26, set NHL career highs in goals (16), points (38) and plus/minus (plus-17) in 71 games last season. He had 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Predators reach their first Stanley Cup Final, when Nashville lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. Ellis played through the injury during the Final, but it was not revealed when he had the surgery.

"He's not skating yet," Poile said. "He probably will be skating in approximately another three weeks and the recovery will go from there. So we don't expect him back until at the end of the year, maybe new year, maybe right around Christmastime. Obviously we had a little bit of a heads up with this, and that's really one of the reasons why we got [defenseman Alexei Emelin] from Vegas to add to not only our depth but our quality of defense."

The Predators acquired Emelin on July 1 in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights for a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

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Poile said the surgery was to repair ligament damage in Ellis' knee. The defenseman played Game 6 of the Final and Poile said he could have played Game 7 if necessary.

"It was a unique injury how he could still play with it and he was comfortable," Poile said. "We knew at the time he was going to need surgery, but he could and did play with it. It was just a real fortunate situation how he could still do it. It wasn't hurting him anymore. It was unique. Let's put it that way."

The Predators are without a captain after center Mike Fisher retired on Aug. 3. Ellis remains a candidate to replace Fisher as captain despite the injury.

"[Ellis] did an unbelievable job as a leader on our team last year, and this injury, while we wish we had him at the start of camp, is a short-term thing relatively speaking in his career," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We'll examine all possibilities."

The Predators also announced center Nick Bonino is unlikely to play in any preseason games. Nashville is hopeful he will be ready for the season opener against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Oct. 5.

Nashville signed Bonino to a four-year, $16.4 million contract as an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Bonino fractured his left tibia against the Predators while playing for the Penguins in the Final.

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