STATS: 77 Games | 12 G-14 A = 26 P | 68 PIM | -15 | 48.2% Corsi | 1.8 Point Shares
PLAYOFFS: 17 games | 5 G-8 A = 13 P | 18 PIM | +6 | 48.3% Corsi
STORY: Lars Eller didn’t have a great season from a scoring perspective. He went a very long time without scoring, but the thing is he keeps doing the little things right. He was consistently one of the better possession players on the team.
He started off the season hotter than any player in a Canadiens uniform and ended it behind only P.K. Subban in team playoff scoring. If the middle part of the season can improve from a points gathering perspective, Eller may very well be part of the core of the future of this team alongside Subban, Max Pacioretty, Carey Price, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher.
Quite simply: Lars Eller being a top six forward in the league makes this Canadiens future great. It’s probably already very good but Eller becoming what people expect from him pushes it over the edge.
The main thing for Eller is to become more consistent. I was surprised when his most common linemates during the regular season were Galchenyuk (41.5%) and Gallagher (28.5) with Bourque a close third (27.8). The point is, Eller’s linemates weren’t always scorers. And when he played with players like Bourque, they weren’t scoring.
You can’t expect miracles from Eller at this point. Play him with fourth liners, and he will struggle to put points up. He can’t do it by himself. However, when he clicks with guys like Bourque and Brian Gionta like he did in the playoffs, it’s hard to not love what he brings.
Eller, like I said, struggled from a points perspective. However, it’s hard to ignore him being one of the better possession players on the team. Among forwards he was behind just Gallagher, Pacioretty and Desharnais. So the points weren’t there but the fact he had flashes is good enough for me.
Look at the contrast at how the last two years ended for Eller. Last year ended with him as one of the most dominant players on the ice in Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators. Then he was blindsided and missed the rest of the series.
This year, he was healthy and played amazing. He was the team’s leading scoring forward. He was outstanding. That’s the type of player Lars Eller is when he’s not playing with struggling players. No player gets me more excited for what he could become than Eller other than Galchenyuk. (Pacioretty is already there).
FUTURE: Eller is currently a restricted free-agent and will be looking for his first real contract in the league. He has value and should command probably between $2 and 3 million. The longer the deal, the more it could become.
Eller is the first of the Canadiens big three young forwards to come up for renewal. His contract may provide somewhat of a baseline for Gallagher and Galchenyuk. I would be comfortable paying him anything under 4, especially if it becomes a longer deal.