Lars Eller’s four year, $14 million deal has been somewhat of a controversial
one among the fan base. While some love the deal, there are quite a few
who believe the team overpaid both in terms and in dollars for a player who has
been consistently inconsistent to this point in his career. Which way are
our writers leaning; good deal, or bad deal?
Matt Dilworth: Without knowing which Lars Eller is going to
show up, it’s difficult for me to predict if Marc Bergevin did the right thing
by signing him for four years. If the Eller we saw in last year’s playoffs hits
the ice, then it’s a great move by the GM. But if it’s the Eller that went
scoreless and ineffective for massive stretches of time during the regular
season, then Montreal fans may have acquired their new scapegoat before too
long. It seems like a bit of an unnecessary risk to sign Eller based on his
potential; a one-year deal might have evaluated Eller’s real value, and
negotiations could have gone from there. Nevertheless, I’m a fan of Eller’s, so
I hope that this security will motivate him to take the next step. At the very
least, the cap hit is very manageable, and the contract shouldn’t affect
Montreal’s cap situation too significantly.
Brian La Rose: As much as people don’t think of Marc Bergevin
as a risk-taker, some of his contract extensions over the last several months
would suggest otherwise. Alexei Emelin got a four year, big money deal
with question marks and Lars Eller has now received one as well. Clearly,
there’s an expectation that Eller can be more consistent and when you consider
what his salary will be in the back two years of the contract, they’re of the
belief that he can be more of a contributor offensively. (A random side
note, his big money kicks in at the same time that Tomas Plekanec’s contract is
set to expire. Food for thought, perhaps?) If he struggles
offensively though, that contract may be hard to trade in years three and four.
As for the cap hit of the deal, it’s not crazy. The market now is that
top end third line centres are going to get in the high two/low three million
range and with the cap projected to rise in future years, $3.5 million will
likely be the going rate. I don’t think he has future 50-point seasons in
him and I can’t see this being a major bargain down the road but it’s a
reasonable deal overall.
Alex Létourneau: Call me cheap, since I think I’ve disliked the
money thrown at a slew of signings in the last year, but I’m not too thrilled
with $14 million over four years to a player no one can rightly say is a
consistent NHL player. Yeah, I watched the playoffs, but I also watched the
season leading up to it. Lars Eller played so well to start the season that
I was sure Tomas Plekanec would be traded at some point. But I was deceived.
There’s a lot of potential with Eller, but after a while, potential gets stale.
He’s a big body with hockey smarts, a good two-way game and finesse, but we’ve
only seen flashes of it to date.
Furthermore, I’m not sure how accurate the reports were of Marc Bergevin
offering in the $1.65 million area compared to Eller’s demands of slightly over
$3 million for the upcoming season, but it seems to me Bergevin blew it. In my
eyes, the chips were heavily in Bergevin’s corner, despite a truly impressive
playoff run. While the contract is more back-loaded, I’ve never been crazy on
paying for what might be, especially after four seasons of regurgitating the
same dialogue regarding Eller. Anyway, it is what it is. I’m glad he’s here for
the next four seasons and hopefully in a year or two I’ll be writing about what
a steal this contract was for the Canadiens.
Matt Macaskill: I absolutely love the Eller deal. While
Bergevin could have pushed for a shorter, potentially cheaper contract, he signs
a key member of the team’s core for decent term. While Lars Eller doesn’t put up
the same offensive numbers as David Desharnais, who makes the same dough, he
does possess a strong two-way game that takes pressure off of Tomas Plekanec.
Eller was one of the keys to Montreal’s success during the playoffs. If he can
match his consistency in the playoffs and during the lockout-shortened 2012-2013
season when he put up 30 points in 56 games, this deal will prove to be a steal.
Bergevin clearly has a lot of faith in Eller’s ability to rebound from a
mediocre 26-point regular season. It’s possible the GM is even hoping Eller will
rekindle his playoff chemistry with almost-sniper Rene Bourque in order to raise
the latter’s trade value, but I wouldn’t bank on it.