Former Montreal Canadiens Forward Reaches Impressive Milestone Against Habs

Jan 27, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson (8) moves
Jan 27, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson (8) moves / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens have made many great trades and plenty of questionable deals in the history of their franchise.

One that looked to have fine value, but was still questioned at the time, and has turned out to not be among the best made by the Habs was when they traded away Lars Eller. The native of Denmark was shipped to the Washington Capitals at the 2016 NHL Draft for a pair of second round draft picks.

The Canadiens would pick Joni Ikonen with one pick and trade the other one for third and fifth round picks before selecting Jordan Harris and Samuel Houde. Harris is looking like he will play for a long time in the NHL so maybe the deal will eventually pay off for the Canadiens.

Eller was originally acquired from the St. Louis Blues for Jaroslav Halak when the goaltender was fresh off an incredible run to the Eastern Conference Final. Eller turned out to be a big, smart, defensive center that could play on a third line, limit scoring chances against, be an exceptional penalty killer and score a little bit.

It was the scoring that held him back from ever playing higher up the lineup, as he maxed out at 30 points in his Canadiens career, though that came in a 48 game season. He helped the Capitals win a Stanley Cup shortly after being dealt there, filling that third line role, killing penalties, playing hard minutes and exploded offensively that spring by scoring 18 points in 24 games.

Eller faced the Canadiens on Saturday night as his career has taken him to Pittsburgh where he represents the Penguins now. It was impressively his 1000th career NHL game and he got the ball rolling for the Pens by scoring the game's opening goal.

He now has nine goals and 15 points on the season and appears destined for yet another 15 goal and 25-30 point season while playing exceptional defense which is pretty much what he has always done.

The Canadiens moved on from Eller because they though Phillip Danault and him were fighting for the same third line role. The problem was their center depth was so thin at the time that Danault quickly jumped to their top line and there would have been room for both if they just moved on from David Desharnais a few months earlier.

It is easy to look back and question decisions made, but this one was questioned quite a bit at the time is was made. Eller has fit in perfect everywhere he has played and you are left to wonder what could have been had he stuck around with the Canadiens longer.

Him playing his 1000th career game against the Canadiens was just another reminder they gave up on this player way too soon.