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The centrepiece of the Jaroslav Halak trade, Lars Eller played his second
full NHL season in 2011-12.  Although he scored more than twice as many
goals as he did in his rookie campaign, his year was often plagued by
inconsistency in the offensive zone.  On the other hand, he went from a
player who often was sat in late situations to one of Montreal’s more reliable
two-way players.  Will his third year be the one where he unlocks his
offensive potential?


The optimist looks at Eller’s 16 goals and says he was only a few good
bounces away from 20.  The pessimist looks at that and notes that without
his 4-goal effort against Winnipeg, he barely hit double digits.  Such a
hot-and-cold contrast described the Danish centres’ season perfectly; at times
he was a significant threat while at other times he was nowhere to be found in
the scoring zone as evidenced by five sets of pointless streaks spanning at
least six games.  Defensively is where he made significant strides,
however.  Eller was second (behind Tomas Plekanec) in takeaways while he
averaged 1:41 of SHTOI, a far cry from the five seconds per game he had in 2010-11. 
As a result of his improved play in his own end, his ice time jumped up by over
four minutes per game.

Season Stats: 79 GP, 16 G, 12 A, 28 PTS, -5 rating, 66 PIMS, 2
PPG, 2 GWG, 129 SOG, 15:18 ATOI

2-Year Averages

GP: 78
Assists: 11
Points: 23
+/-: -5
PIMS: 57
PPG: 1

2012-13 Role

As it stands, Eller is likely to once again be the #3 centre for the Habs. 
He has had very little success when moved to the wing at the NHL level although
he did play on the left side at the 2012 World Championships and played
extremely well for Team Denmark.  If he is more comfortable playing there
now, he could be an option for the second line which would be a boon for his
point totals.  The injury to Rene Bourque could open up a spot for him on
the powerplay, at least to start the season while he should still see some
penalty kill time.  However, a return to health for Travis Moen and the
addition of Brandon Prust should cut into his 1:41 average from last year.

Projected Stats

As much as we’d all like to see Eller eclipse the 40 point plateau, it’s very
rare for third line centres to do so, especially when his wingers are likely to
include at least one of Moen or Prust.  Both of those players have hit the
double digit goal mark just once in each of their respective NHL careers and are
known more for their physical play than their offensive skills.  His time
on the man advantage will be spotty at best when the team is at full health so
he can’t be counted on to put up big numbers there either.  That said,
expecting some improvement is reasonable; cutting down on the number of lengthy
pointless droughts should get him over the 30 point mark as long as he
stays healthy.  Eller is a worthwhile late selection in most leagues but
don’t reach too early hoping for him to do what David Desharnais did in 2011-12,
the scoring opportunities likely won’t be there for him.  Bump him up a few
notches in your rankings for pools that place higher emphasis on PIMS while
knock him down a few spots in pools that have faceoff percentage as a stat as
this is an area he has struggled notably in.

GP: 77
Assists: 18
Points: 33
+/-: -3
PIMS: 56
PPG: 2

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