Ellis, who played last season with the St. Louis Blues’ American Hockey League affiliate, Chicago Wolves, signed a professional contract as the regular season was ending with Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League.
He and his wife, Brittany, fly over in early August to get settled prior to training camp, which starts Aug. 8.
“They’re always one of the better teams in the Swedish League, and they’re always really competitive,” Ellis says of the hockey experience that awaits him. “They are a big-time hockey-crazy city. They love their hockey.”
For Ellis, who logged three National Hockey League games with the Montreal Canadiens in 2016 before testing the free-agent waters last summer and signing a one-year contract with the Blues, Europe offers him the opportunity to take his game in a new direction. “I know people think, ‘You sign over in Sweden, you’re kind of giving up on your NHL dream,’” said Ellis, 25.
Not so, insists the East Bideford native, who was selected to the North Division roster for the 2016 AHL All-Star Game.
“I’m obviously going over there to try to continually get better, and learn a different style of hockey,” continued Ellis. “Hopefully, that can make me a better player and, if that means getting back to the NHL a different way, I’m fine with that.”
Although he did not disclose the numbers, Ellis, reached by phone as he was moving into an apartment in Charlottetown for the summer, said the European contract, because of the taxation saving, effectively gives him a wage boost.
“The goal is to go over to Europe, play some good hockey and see a different part of the world, travel with my wife,” said Ellis. Their dog is also making the trip with them.
He expressed appreciation to his family and friends for their ongoing support and encouragement.
During 74 regular-season games with the Wolves in 2016-17, the steady defenceman had a plus-6 rating and registered nine goals and 21 assists. He earned one assist in 10 playoff games, before the Grand Rapids Griffins bounced the division-winning Wolves in the second round.
A look at career of Morgan Ellis:
Played five seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, including 3 ½ with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
The Montreal Canadiens drafted Ellis in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Ellis started his professional career in 2012 after concluding his junior career by helping the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League win the 2011-12 Memorial Cup.
Ellis played 2 1/2 seasons with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, and finished the 2014-15 season with the Wheeling Nailers of the East Coast League. In his final year with the Canadiens’ organization in 2015-16, he played for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, and made his NHL debut with the Canadiens.