As you are all aware, Lars (Larry) Eller has signed a 2 year deal totaling $2.65 over the course of the contract which can only be seen as a steal for what Eller could provide to this team over the next two seasons. As a Restricted Free Agent, Eller didn’t really have much in the way of negotiating power, and as we have seen in the past, comparable players are used to determine the contract value. This is why RFAs such as Carey Price and Drew Doughty have held out for so long in the past before signing – when there are no real comparables you’re bound to be ripped off, which will lead a player to exercise his only leverage – to hold out.
Still, Eller’s deal is certainly worth a second look because I think Montreal has benefited incredibly from circumstance to get a VERY good deal for what Eller will be. The great Dane has underrated size and toughness. He’s certainly not a fighter, but we saw for long stretches that Eller is the type of guy who is willing to use his size and high hockey IQ to go into corners and come out with the puck. He’s simply fantastic in tight spaces, and I would say probably has the second best passing vision on the team to Andrei Markov. All of this has yet to pay off in terms of big points, but it is critically important that we remember that Eller turned 23 two days ago!
The real reason that I think the Habs could have really scored a coup here is that Eller has never really been given the opportunity to play solid minutes with offensively talented players. No disrespect intended to Mathieu Darche, Ryan White or Mike Blunden – but if Eller could get on the ice more than his current 15 minutes per game with talented players, I sincerely believe that he would see a large boost in his offensive production.
While its hard to see him supplanting Plekanec or Desharnais on the powerplay at this point, Montreal would do well to get him on the ice with capable wingers every once in a while. If Eller can put up 28 points playing 15 minutes per night with Mathieu Darche and Travis Moen, it is near impossible to believe that he wouldn’t flourish with guys like Pacioretty or Gionta. The fact that Eller is most often used against the other team’s top line in a defensive role means that his value is already very high for this team. I’d like to see the team try to capitalize on the offensive game that we all witnessed when he put up 4 goals in one game versus the Winnipeg Jets last season.
WHAT IS LEFT
With Eller’s signing, the Habs have most of the main pieces of the team locked up for this season. Clearly a contract for PK Subban is in the works. Raphael Diaz, Aaron Palushaj and Blake Geoffrion (all RFAs) are the only remaining players from last year’s squad who will be offered contracts. Darche and Chris Campoli will be cut adrift in the UFA market. Montreal has just over $7.5M left in cap space to accommodate these players, so while a big market free agent is out of the question given how much PK will command in his contract, Bergevin certainly could still add some veteran depth if he can find a good deal.
Hope you’re all having a great summer!