In preparation for the NHL Draft on June 26, Die by the Blade will profile potential Buffalo Sabres Draft Picks. This feature will run daily with one or two players profiled each day.
Windsor (Ontario Hockey League)
5'9" 173 lbs.
Hometown: Freelton, ON
Date of Birth: January 3, 1991
Stats: 57 GP, 22 G, 67 A, 89 PTS
The Good - Ellis is an amazing offensive talent on the blue line. He is a great skater with outstanding speed. His skating ability has been compared to Brian Campbell but his offensive upside seems even better.
Ellis is talented enough to play instantly on an NHL power play unit. He is a power play specialist that is able to hold the blue line and has a cannon for a shot.
He is and will forever be labeled as an offensive-defenseman but he can play in his own zone as well. He understands his limitations and tries to play within himself. He is limited physically by his size but still plays a physical brand of hockey. He is also very good with his stick in the defensive zone, often taking the puck away from attacking forwards.
The Bad: Size, size, size. There are plenty of questions about the productivity and durability of Ellis because of his size. There are not too many 5'9" defensemen in the league because of the physicality of the game. Ellis has been able to produce up until this point in his career but many wonder if that will translate into the NHL where players are bigger and stronger.
Ellis improves his defensive game all the time but he still needs more work on his positioning in the defensive zone and his gap control.
What They are Saying
Ex-Sabres Defenseman and Windsor Head Coach Bob Boughner
There are plays where he's making something out of nothing. And his biggest asset is his shot. He's got an NHL one-timer, he's got an NHL slap shot, and that's a dangerous weapon."
Why the Sabres Might Pick Him
He is possibly the most talented player in the entire draft. If he was bigger he would be a top five pick but will fall because of size. The Sabres have never been overly concerned about size at the forward position (Derek Roy, Nathan Gerbe, Paul Byron etc.) maybe that take a chance on a small defenseman.
Why the Sabres Might Pass on Him
Much like the verdict on John Moore...they are deep on defense in the minors and juniors. They would probably love to have a player as talented as Ellis but they need to get better prospects at forward.
As talented as he is you can't over look his size. He has handled himself well until this point but that may not be the case when the players get bigger and stronger as they will in the NHL.