As his career continues to evolve on and off the ice, Ryan Ellis has now been officially recognized as one of the leaders in the Nashville locker room.
The Predators defenseman was named to the Predators leadership group on Tuesday by Head Coach Peter Laviolette, becoming an alternate captain for the club. Ellis joins the likes of Captain Mike Fisher, Alternate Captains James Neal and Roman Josi, as well as goaltender Pekka Rinne as a member of the group that is counted on to lead the club.
"Just through the course of the year working through our group, Ryan's been a great leader for our team and we'll now add him to what we think is already a strong group," Laviolette said. "He's emerged as a guy that we count on inside of that room, along with the leaders that we already have in place, to be able to push this team to the next level."
Video: Ellis, McLeod and Fiddler speak prior to VAN vs. NSH
"It's an honor for me to be mentioned in the likes of [Neal] and [Josi] and [Fisher] and [Rinne], but it doesn't mean I'm going to try any harder or any less," Ellis said. "I'm still going to go out and do the best I can every night for the team."
Drafted 11th overall by Nashville in the 2009 NHL Draft, Ellis has quietly become one of the more reliable defensemen in the League, posting a career-high 10 goals and 32 points last season. In 2016-17, his fourth full season with the Preds, Ellis has registered eight goals through 44 games, the most of any Preds blueliner. Counted on in all situations, Ellis has averaged more than 24 minutes of ice time per game this season.
Video: Laviolette announces Ellis will join leadership group
Laviolette acknowledged that even though Ellis has been appointed an alternate captain, he may not physically wear the 'A' on his jersey, as Neal and Josi regularly hold that role. However, just because Ellis won't sport a letter on a nightly basis doesn't take away from what he provides to the team.
"It's not about the 'A' on your jersey, it's about how you present yourself in the room, how you present yourself on the ice and how you present yourself in life," Laviolette said. "Ryan has emerged as someone that we count on not only for his play, but for his leadership, so we're recognizing that as well."