The Canadiens and forward Lars Eller have avoided salary arbitration.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin announced on Thursday afternoon that the club has agreed to terms with Eller on a new four-year contract. The deal is worth $14 million and avoids a salary arbitration hearing that was scheduled for Friday. Eller will earn $2.5 million in each of the first two seasons of the deal and $4.5 million in each of the last two years.
On Wednesday, the Canadiens submitted a $1.65-million one-year offer to the arbitrator while Eller was looking for $3.1 million. Eller earned $1.5 million last season when he posted 12-14-26 totals in 77 regular-season games and had 5-8-13 totals in 17 playoff games.
“We are very pleased to have agreed upon a long-term agreement with Lars Eller,” Bergevin said in a statement. “He is an important part of our group of young veterans. He has a tremendous work ethic and a great attitude. He is the type of player you can rely on for his play at both ends of the rink. Lars can play big minutes against the opponents’ top players and still be an offensive threat. We are confident he will reach his full potential and become an impact player who will compete at a high level for many years to come.”
Tweeted Eller after the signing was announced: “Very happy to be a part of the Montreal Canadiens for 4 more years!”
During a conference call later in the afternoon from the Toronto airport, where he was waiting for a flight home to Denmark, Eller said: “First of all, I’m very happy to be a Canadien for the next four years. This is the place I want to be. Four years was a term that both sides had been working on for quite some time.”
Eller was asked about the added pressure that will come from his new contract.
“A lot of times your salary and your expectations and pressure goes hand-in-hand and I’ve seen that here in Montreal,” he said. “But I put a lot of pressure on myself, too. I think it also speaks to how much the organization believes in me and has faith in me. It’s really nice to know that they’re behind me and they’ve shown me that faith and now it’s up to me to go out and play the best hockey I can.”
When asked what part of his game he needs to improve most in the future, Eller said: “I think the No. 1 thing for me is consistency. I know when I’m on top of my game there’s not much I want to change. I want to improve every area, but most of all consistency. And I still think there’s something to gain in my offensive part of the game and that’s probably where I can improve the most, but I need to improve every area of my game.”
P.K. Subban, the Canadiens’ remaining restricted free agent, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 1.
(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)