A native of Freelton, Ontario, Ryan was selected 11th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators. He won two Memorial Cups as member of the Windsor Spitfires and was the OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year (2009), the OHL’s Top Defenceman (2009 & 2011), the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player (2011) and the CHL’s Defenceman and Player of the Year (2011). Ryan made his NHL debut with the Predators during the 2010-11 season and prior to the 2014-15 season, signed a multi-year contract extension with Nashville.
Internationally, Ellis has represented Canada on many occasions including winning gold medals at each of the U17 World Hockey Challenge, the IIHF U18 World Championship and the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and the 2016 IIHF World Championship. Ryan also made three appearances at the U20 World Juniors winning a Gold (2009) and two Silver medals (2010/2011). He is the U20 tournament's all-time leading scorer among defencemen and Canada's all-time assists leader.