Life is good for the Nashville Predators, who currently lead the Central Division with 46 points in 33 games and are about to get a huge present for Christmas. Ryan Ellis, out all season following knee surgery, is expected to be back in the lineup on January 2nd. That’s according to Predators GM David Poile himself, who told 104.5 The Zone that the defensemen is just working on his confidence after such a long layoff (quote courtesy of Thomas Willis of NHL.com): The doctor says it’s about confidence now, he’s fully healed. I’m expecting Ryan Ellis will skate the last week of the year and be looking at the first game of 2018 as a time to be back. Ellis has turned himself into one of the premier defensemen in the league, scoring 16 goals and 38 points last season while being responsible in his own end every night. The 26-year old was named “associate captain” of the Predators in the offseason, after Roman Josi—who was eventually named team captain—suggested Ellis without hesitation for the job.