The Montreal Canadiens have avoided salary arbitration with Lars Eller, signing the big center to a four year contract extension. Eller will make 3.5 million per season for the next four seasons.
Eller was slated to take the Canadiens to arbitration tomorrow, but instead cashes in a day early, and will be a member of this organization for a long time now.
Eller has shown flashes of brilliance for the Habs in the past, but is yet to put a consistently strong season together at the NHL level. He played very well during the lockout shortened 2013 season, scoring 30 points in 46 games, but that 30 points represents his career high.
Eller returned from a significant injury that ended his 2013 postseason in Game 1, and was great to begin the 2013-14 season. However, his offence quickly dissipated and he struggled to score for much of the season. He ended up with 26 points in 77 regular season games, but exploded in the playoffs.
Playing on a line with Rene Bourque and a largely ineffective Brian Gionta, at least from an offensive standpoint, Eller led the Canadiens forwards with 13 points in 17 playoff games. He used his size well throughout the postseason, and was a dominant force helping the Montreal Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Final.
Eller is an interesting player for the Habs, as he has all the tools to be a great two way center. He has the size at 6’2” and 220 pounds, the defensive acumen and spurts of offence. If he can round out his offensive game and become more consistent, he will be the big two way center that most teams search for years to find. At just 25 years of age, he has time to develop to really come into his own during this contract.
If the Eller of the regular season returns, 3.5 million is a big much for a solid defensive third line guy. But if we see more of the Eller that showed up for the postseason over the next four years, this contract will be a steal for the Montreal Canadiens.