What appeared to be little more than a formality will soon become formal.
On Tuesday, Checkers coach Jeff Daniels revealed plans to retain veteran goalie Dan Ellis, whose professional tryout contract was set to expire after that night’s game. Though he did not elaborate on whether the team would sign Ellis to another 25-game tryout contract or a standard AHL contract for the remainder of the season, it appears that there will be little drama either way.
“It’ll be taken care of in the next few days,” said Daniels.
Ellis will need a new contract to be on the roster for the Checkers’ following game against Houston on Friday. Starting Wednesday, he would become a free agent able to sign with another team in the absence of a new agreement, though with both sides pleased after 24 games together, it does not appear that will occur.
“We’re obviously really happy with what he’s done on the ice and he’s also a great leader for us,” Daniels said last week, prior to Ellis’ 36-save victory over Lake Erie on Friday.
Ellis, a 32-year-old who spent the last five seasons in the NHL, ranks sixth in the AHL with a .927 save percentage and 2.43 goals-against average. Playing his first AHL games since 2007 as an injury suffered with the Anaheim Ducks last season and the NHL’s lockout forced him back to the league, Ellis has also posted two shutouts.
Ellis has shared the Checkers’ workload evenly with Justin Peters this season, a development that should continue through the short term even though Ellis recently started back-to-back games for the first time all season.
Should Ellis’ next contract be another tryout, the Checkers would need to sign him to a standard AHL contract at the 50-game mark to keep him on the roster. If and when the lockout ends, Ellis would then be eligible to sign with an NHL team.