Montreal (June 26, 2009) - With the 11th selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Nashville Predators selected Windsor Spitfires defenseman Ryan Ellis
on Friday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the fifth time in the last nine years the franchise has used a first-round pick on a defenseman. Ellis is coming off a 2008-09 season that saw him win a Memorial Cup and an Ontario Hockey League Championship with the Spitfires, as well as a World Junior Championship with Team Canada.
"This is probably the most dynamic player in the draft, and by far the best offensive defenseman in the draft," Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said of Ellis. "This will be the guy that could be a big offensive defenseman in the National Hockey League. He will be running the power play and he can help us be the offensive team we are striving to be."
A native of Freelton, Ont., Ellis led all OHL defensemen in both regular-season points (22g-67a-87pts in 57gp) and play-off points (8g-23a-21pts in 20gp) en route to being named the OHL's 2009 Most Outstanding Defenseman. He also ranked second in regular season plus/minus rating (+52), was seventh overall in league points, and was tops in the OHL Playoffs in assists.
"I've only been in the OHL three years and other coaches I talk to, they've never seen a defenseman have an impact in a junior game like Ryan Ellis
," Windsor Head Coach and former Predators defenseman Bob Boughner said. "He seems to be in on every play defensively and offensively. If you come away from the game and you look at who was your favorite player, who played the best, his name always seems to come to mind."
At just 17, the 5-9, 173-pound blueliner was the youngest defenseman to don the Maple Leaf since Jay Bouwmeester in 2001. As one of just three draft-eligible players on the team, Ellis notched seven points (1g-6a) in six games during Canada's run to the gold medal. He was ranked 16th among North American skaters and fifth among North American defensemen in Central Scouting Bureau's final rankings. Ellis models his game after Detroit's Brian Rafalski.
Ellis represented the OHL in last fall's Canada/Russia Challenge, played in the 2009 OHL All-Star Classic, and was selected to participate in the 2009 CHL Top Prospects Game. In a poll of league coaches, he was voted the Western Conference's Smartest Player, top Offensive Defenseman, and the player with the hardest shot.
Rounds 2-7 of the Entry Draft continue tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. CT (broadcast on NHL Network) with the Predators holding 11 more selections: Nos. 41 and 42 (second round), Nos. 70 and 72 (third round), Nos. 98, 102 and 110 (fourth round), Nos. 132 and 138 (fifth round) and Nos. 192 and 202 (seventh round).
How additional picks were acquired:
42nd overall - From Minnesota, along with forward Ryan Jones, for Marek Zidlicky
70th overall - From Ottawa, along with its first-round pick in 2008 (18th overall), for Nashville's first-round pick in 2008 (15th overall)
98th overall - From San Jose, along with its seventh-round pick in 2008 (207th overall), for Nashville's fourth-round pick in 2008 (106th overall)
109th overall - From the N.Y. Rangers, along with their seventh-round pick in 2008 (201st overall), for the N.Y. Rangers' fourth-round pick in 2008 (111th overall, via St. Louis in Chris Mason trade)
148th overall - From Carolina for forward Darcy Hordichuk and Nashville's fifth-round pick in 2009
201st overall - From Philadelphia, along with forward Triston Grant, for defenseman Janne Niskala