Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis has a decent grasp on his strengths as a hockey player.

"I just like to set it up, I'm more of a quarterback power-play kind of guy and spread the puck and shoot when I can," Ellis said. "Whenever a play is open I like to get the puck there."

The Predators will need to count on Ellis and his puck-moving ability from defense as they try to generate scoring from the back end. Tonight's game against Columbus will be the first step to see how far Ellis, 22, has come since he notched 11 points in 32 games as a rookie last year. This season, he spent the NHL's 113-day lockout with the Predators' AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. There, he had nine points in 20 games.

"The biggest thing from last year with Ryan that we asked him to accomplish was to play with pace," coach Barry Trotz said. "To play our system you have to play with more pace. He was able to do that in Milwaukee and has come up and shown that at this level. He has exceptional talent, offensively and power plays, he has great patience."

In order to let him develop at a quicker pace, Nashville put the 5-foot-10 Ellis with 6-foot-7 Hal Gill. The belief is the defensive-minded Gill can enable Ellis to play more offensively and not worry as much about his own end.

"We play two different types of games," Ellis said. "He's a calming veteran guy I can talk to in different situations."

Ellis missed the early part of the AHL schedule with a wrist injury. Overall, Ellis missed no sessions, and it didn't seem to limit him in the Predators' six-day training camp this week.