Then and Now: Matt Ellison

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In the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games for their first title in 49 years.

The team from The Second City had nine players record at least 10 points in their 22-game playoff run. One of those players was forward Patrick Sharp, who tied Dustin Byfuglien for a team-high 11 goals and finished third in points behind Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Sharp used to be a member of the Philadelphia Flyers until December of 2005, when he and Eric Meloche were traded to the Blackhawks for Matt Ellison and a third-round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft.

Ellison spent time with the Flyers, while the third-round pick the Flyers acquired was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens for a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick in the 2006 draft. The Canadiens picked Ryan White, while Philly picked Jonathan Matsumoto in the third round and Jakub Kovar in the fourth round.

“We felt that with all the injuries we have had that Matt would bring more versatility to our lineup,” said then-GM Bobby Clarke to the Philadelphia Inquirer after the trade. “He can play center and wing. We always felt that Patrick was a better center. We have lots of centers, even though we have some injuries right now. We just felt that Matt was a better fit for our team, although we realize that we gave up a good young player.”

Ellison went on to record one assist in five games for the Flyers in the 2005-06 regular season, while he had 12 goals and 13 assists in 48 games for the Philadelphia Phantoms.

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In the next season, Ellison still couldn’t find a way to be a regular in the Flyers’ lineup despite the team posting its worst record in franchise history. The forward took part in only two games for the Orange and Black, as he suited up for Philly’s 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers on December 12 and the Flyers’ 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins the following day. Ellison totaled one shot in 21 shifts that spanned almost 12 minutes of ice time, going pointless in the process.

Ellison spent most of the next season with the Phantoms, where he took part in 62 games compiling 12 goals and 27 assists. He finished 13 points behind Mark Cullen for the team lead in points, as Ellison helped the Phantoms earn 70 points to finish third from last in the AHL.

This was the final season Ellison played in the Flyers’ organization or the NHL. Traded for a future three-time 30-goal scorer in Sharp, Ellison played seven games total for the Flyers and failed to record a single goal. As for his time in the NHL overall, Ellison had three goals and 11 assists in 43 games and never took part in a playoff game.

In the Summer of 2007, Ellison was dealt to the Nashville Predators for future considerations. The forward never played a regular season game for the Preds, but he did take part in 75 games for their AHL affiliate the Milwaukee Admirals. Ellison finished the season with 26 goals and 32 assists to finish second on the team in points behind Cal O’Reilly, who set his career-high in the AHL or NHL with 79 points.

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Led by Ellison and O’Reilly, the Admirals (who had Pekka Rinne start 69 games in net and Flyers’ draft pick Dov Grumet-Morris start nine) finished the season with 44 wins and 95 points to finish seventh in the Western Conference for Ellison’s third trip to the AHL playoffs. Facing the eventual Calder Cup-winning Chicago Wolves in the first round of the playoffs, the Admirals were defeated in six games while Ellison went pointless with two PIMs in five appearances.

This was Ellison’s final year playing hockey in North America, as he has taken part in the KHL for the last four seasons.

His first campaign in the KHL was with Dinamo Riga, a team that boasted several former NHLers in Ronald Petrovickey, Martin Prusek, Marcel Hossa, Mark Hartigan, Filip Novak, and Duvie Westcott. Among these players, Ellison finished third (behind Hossa and Hartigan) on the team with points, as he posted 15 goals and tied Hossa for a team-high 22 helpers.

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Unfortunately for Ellison and the rest of Dinamo Riga, the club was eliminated in a three-game first round sweep by Dynamo Moscow.

This was Ellison’s only season with Dinamo Riga, as he joined HC MVD for their final season before the team merged with Dynamo Moscow to form UHC Dynamo. The forward finished with 16 goals and 18 assists in 52 tilts to tie former Pittsburgh Penguin Martin Strbak for the team lead in points. The pair of skaters and former Atlanta Thrashers goalie Michael Garnett led the club to a Finals loss, where the team blew a 3-2 series lead to lose in seven to AK Bars Kazan.

HC MVD’s postseason run was the second time Ellison was part of a team to lose in the FInals in his career, as his Red Deer Rebels lost to the Kelowna Rockets in the 2003 Memorial Cup Finals in the Western Hockey League. The playoff run also serves as the last time Ellison as seen the postseason in any league.

For the last two seasons, Ellison has been a member of the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL. Last year, Ellison led the team with 29 assists and 50 points in 53 games as the club finished one point shy of a postseason appearance with 73 points.

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This past campaign, Ellison only took part in 25 games. He posted 10 goals and 10 assists, as Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod won the Tarasov Division title and finished second in the Western Conference behind SKA Saint Petersburg. Although they beat Dinamo Riga in a seven-game Western Conference Quarterfinals match-up, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod lost to Dynamo Moscow in the next round. Ellison didn’t see any postseason action.

Ellison is expected to stay with the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod for the 2012-2013 season, as he hopes to surpass 200 games and 150 career points in the KHL.