The Montreal Canadiens and Lars Eller agreed to a four-year contract worth $14 million, avoiding arbitration.
I’ve made no hiding the fact that I really like Eller as a player and what he projects to be at some point. His playoffs was a very good example of this. I think this contract gives the Canadiens great value for someone who will become a top-six forward by the end of the contract.
The Canadiens are paying more than Eller’s camp was looking for in arbitration for one simple reason, the Canadiens are buying two of his unrestricted free-agent years. The extra two years make this deal have more value for Eller.
If you wanted to look at this contract differently, look at it as two two-year contracts. Two times $2.5 million for the next two years and then it increases to two years at $4.5 million for the other two bringing the average (and cap hit) to $3.5 million.
I don’t think you could look at Eller’s regular season and judge him based on that. Having said that, he needs to prove that he isn’t that player. Not being put with players who can’t score should help. Eller lost a lot of confidence last year when he wasn’t scoring. If he gets that back, he will have a real breakout season to match his 2013-14 playoffs.
Eller is a player who drives possession, who is responsible defensively and is wildly underappreciated by most fans. He’s basically Tomas Plekanec from four years ago. I don’t think this deal will prove to be a bad one for the Canadiens. In fact, I think we look at years three and four of this contract like we look at Max Pacioretty‘s deal.
The Canadiens are investing in Eller. The Canadiens are projecting him to be a big part of this team going forward. I agree with them doing that.
One down, one to go. There is a Norris-winning defenceman who needs a new contract.