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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Last summer, Lars Eller was the centerpiece in the deal that sent Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues. While he took some time to acclimatize himself to his new league and team, he seemed to gain a measure of comfort as the season progressed. Will the Danish pivot be able to translate this experience and new found comfort into offensive production in 2011-12?
Between the pressure of a high-profile trade and his new work environment, the rookie centre struggled mightily at his arrival in Montreal. It took him 21 games before scoring his first goal and, over that stretch, only managed a total of two points. His play doubtlessly improved as the year wore on, but he never managed to convert that improvement into regular production, posting points in consecutive games only once. Nonetheless, the young Dane progressively demonstrated more grit and defensive acumen while also showing decent chemistry with Andrei Kostitsyn late in the campaign.
In the offseason, Lars Eller underwent shoulder surgery. Initially, a longer absence was expected, but Ellerís recovery has apparently gone quite smoothly. The Rodovre native now hopes to be ready for the opening of training camp next month and claims he has added 15 lbs of muscle to his frame.
Season Stats: 77 GP, 7 goals, 10 assists, -4, 48 PIM, 0 PPG, 0 PPA, 2 GWG, 79 shots, 11:08 TOI
Per-82 game averages
(Since Eller is still too young to look at 5-year trends, here are his career numbers averaged out over an 82-game season.)
With the addition of Erik Cole and the return of Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller should be in the middle of a fairly offensive third line. Depending on how Jacques Martin arranges his first two trios, the Danish centre could find himself with players such as Andrei Kostitsyn, David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty or Erik Cole on his wings. Correspondingly, this new set-up should also afford him more offensive chances and a bit more ice-time than last season, although it is doubtful that, barring any injuries, he will see much work on the powerplay.
Lars Eller clearly possess above average offensive potential and, based on that potential alone, he certainly has the ability to reach the 50-point plateau. However, production is not simply based on talent. And, as it stands, Lars Eller is slotted for a third line position, which indicates that an expected output of around 30 points seems reasonable. Of course, should his responsibilities evolve over the year, he could be poised for a breakout. In a deep fantasy league, Eller could prove to be pleasant surprise as a late pick
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Louis Moustakas is an editor at HabsWorld.net and works for the Coaching Association of Canada in Ottawa. He can be reached at [email protected]
- HabsWorld 2011 Fantasy Focus posted by B. La Rose