A huge storyline for tonight's Game 6 will be the availability (and effectiveness) of Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis. Ellis left Game 5 and would not return after suffering an injury.
Ryan Ellis couldn't put much power on his shot while skating alone earlier. Now he's not taking part in #preds optional before Game 6.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 11, 2017
Roman Josi says the Predators are confident if Anthony Bitetto or Brad Hunt play tonight. Feels very much like no Ryan Ellis for Game 6.— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) June 11, 2017
If Ellis doesn't play, that's a huge blow for the Predators who will have to put more on the plates of guys like Yanick Weber and Matt Irwin who the Penguins have feasted on so far this series.
We're all wrapped up in the playoff run, but when the season ends tonight or Wednesday night, there will be a lot of activity to monitor and deal with coming.
Elliotte Friedman said in his 30 Thoughts column, "Pittsburgh already lost Jason Botterill to Buffalo, where Rick Tocchet is expected to interview once this is over." Friedman also mentioned that fellow Pens assistant coach Jacques Martin may be in the mix for the Sabres head coaching job as well. If Botterill poaches a coach, obviously that will create an opening on Mike Sullivan's staff to be filled.
Bob McKenzie has floated that with Bob Boughner getting hired in Florida, the top contenders for the Buffalo job appear to be Phil Housley, Tocchet and Martin, so just on math it does seem like Pittsburgh might have more turnover as guys continue to reap the benefits of success and get to grow in their job opportunities.
Friedman also had an interesting Marc-Andre Fleury mention:
Nick Kypreos has said for a while now that Vegas’s Pittsburgh pick will be Marc-Andre Fleury. Not convinced, however, that’s where he stays. A flip candidate.
The Vegas team will have a very unique opportunity to leverage their draft to select players and then trade immediately to another NHL team. Expect them to make all sorts of interesting and unforeseen transactions to try and maximize the value of this starting expansion draft (part of the reason it's a bit a meaningless effort to project league-wide lists of who will be lost).
Anyways, does it make good sense for the Penguins to allow Fleury to be taken for nothing? Yes, it could, depending on what the Penguins might get from Team B the "flip team", which I believe would be Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg - or here's a wild thought - Philadelphia).
If those teams don't offer much to Pittsburgh for Fleury, then it makes sense to part with Fleury in the expansion draft. Pittsburgh won't get any value coming back, but the value would be that they wouldn't lose a player like Ian Cole, Bryan Rust or Carl Hagelin who will be in the plans for next season.
Regardless, it will be an interesting process. It could be possible for perhaps a nightmare scenario: Vegas takes Fleury and trades him to Philly. The internet might burn in protest all around on that one. But we'll try to think happy thoughts for now.
Speaking of Fleury, he joined the Pens organization at the 2003 draft which was held in Nashville. Tonight could be a full circle type moment with potentially the last time he'll be in a Pens jersey also in Nashville.