The Washington Capitals announced on Saturday morning that they had re-signed 28-year-old Danish center Lars Eller to a five-year, $17.5 million contract extension.
Eller, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has been indisputably one of Washington’s best all-around skaters this season, and has successfully, competently, and dynamically anchored the Capitals’ third line since he was brought in to do so in 2016-2017. Eller has 11 goals and 28 points on the year, and is the only bottom-six forward among the top five in scoring on the team.
The contract, which carries an AAV of $3.5 million, Eller’s current salary for the past four seasons, is a major win for the Capitals. The Great Dane could and would have easily garnered second-line center money somewhere on the open free agency market. With the salary cap already tightening around Washington’s neck like a golden noose, finding the money to re-sign a somewhat under-appreciated (but in this author’s opinion utterly indispensable) third-liner when marquee names like John Carlson will also demand raises seemed...unlikely to be a priority for Washington’s front office. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan just proved me wrong, though; he showed that he has noticed Eller, that he does value Eller, and that he’s shrewd enough to lock him up before his price skyrockets in the summer.
I shared an elevator with MacLellan after the Capitals win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, a game in which Eller recorded a goal and an assist. He had a wry smile, and when the doors opened, he walked purposefully and directly into the players’ portion of the Capitals locker room.
Congratulations to The Lartian.