Key Stat: Eller set a new career high in ice time this season, picking up an average of 16:32 a night - up from 15:18 the year before and edging out his previous high (set back in 2013-14 with the Habs) by about a half a minute per game.
The Good: A year after establishing new career highwater marks in goals and points, Eller checked in with an offensive season almost as good, picking up a career-best 23 assists and falling just two points shy of last season’s 38. That helper total included his first-career three-assist game against the Panthers in October. And while his goal total dipped back down to 13, it wasn’t for lack of trying - the 163 shots he fired on net were the most in a single season for him, and it was only the career-low shooting percentage of 8% that was holding him back from another top goal total.
Along the way, he continued to torment his old team, with four goals - including an overtime game-winner at Bell Centre - against the Habs, and was especially potent against the Atlantic Division overall with 17 points in 23 games.
Eller was tasked with a bit more responsibility this season, picking up additional work with the offseason departure of Jay Beagle - most notably on the penalty kill, where he led all Caps’ forwards in ice time with 2:20 a night. He also held steady in the faceoff circle, winning just under 50% of his draws, and was a rock at even strength with a team-best 51.33% CF (min. 400 minutes TOI) and a relCF of 3.10.
When the playoffs rolled around, last year’s hero had a decent showing in the team’s all-too-brief attempt at a repeat, with three points in seven games - continuing his knack for raising his points-per-game rate in the postseason.
The Bad: As much as his overall production didn’t seem to falter much, there seemed to be something missing in Eller’s game that was there last year. He was never quite able to find the consistent scoring touch he’d discovered in 2017-18 - although a reunion with old pals Andre Burakovsky and Brett Connolly seemed to provide a bit of a spark in February - and his offense all but fell off a cliff as the regular season came to a close, with zero points in seven of the final eight games.
While he was tasked with more time on the penalty kill, it was hard to ignore the fact that the Caps were fairly abysmal shorthanded leading up to the deadline - something which, while not solely his responsibility, doesn’t reflect well on how he was spending those minutes. And while three points in seven playoff games isn’t horrible on the surface, one of the three was an empty-netter in Game 1 and his two assists both came in losses. He just wasn’t there to provide the bottom-six spark the team needed - and got just a year ago.
The Discussion: Eller has played some of his more offensively productive hockey with the Caps over the last two years alongside Burakovsky and Connolly... so where do you see him slotting into the lineup next season if one or both should depart this summer? Do you think Eller is capable of another season close to (or even above) 20 goals? What would it take for you to give him a ‘10’ next season?
Other Eller Season Reviews: Peerless, RMNB
The Vote: Rate Eller below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
How do you rate Lars Eller’s 2018-19 season?
This poll is closed