Rabid Habs

Lars Eller’s Value to the Canadiens

Lars Eller

There is no doubt that Montreal Canadiens’ 3rd line center Lars Eller has received unfair scrutiny his entire career. Consistency seems to be the most prominent issue regarding the 26 year old. Lars Eller has been given tough defensive assignments, constant penalty kill time and averages 15-20 seconds on the PP per game.

Since Eller was a rookie, any linemate he has had was either scratched, traded, or moved (to another line). Throughout the 2012-2013 lockout season, Eller flourished when he was given Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk as his wingers, thus creating the EGG line. Even though it lasted for a short period of time, the EGG line was arguably the most exciting trio to watch on the team.

Playing part of the season with Gallagher and Galchenyuk and then being demoted to the 3rd line, throughout 46 GP, Eller knotted 8 goals and 22 assists for 30 points. This made Lars Eller the 2nd highest scoring forward next to Tomas Plekanec. This also put him 5th on the team for points.

Since then, Eller has never been given decent linemates to work with. Whenever he develops chemistry with his linemates, Michel Therrien is right there to split them up. As a young player who is still developing, it is unhealthy to be moved around as much as he has been. He is given inconsistent linemates such as Rene Bourque, Brian Gionta, Dale Weise, Brandon Prust, Brian Flynn, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jacob De La Rose and PA Parenteau.

Unlike the so called “top center” David Desharnais, Eller has minimal time on the power play and rarely gets offensive zone draws. He is given tough defensive assignments and is constantly being misused by Therrien. Despite all this, Eller is still tied with Max Pacioretty for game winning goals which is 8th in the league.

Eller plays on the defensive line, yet the media criticizes him for not performing in the regular season. Desharnais played 165 minutes on the power play and managed only two goals. Eller has 33 minutes (mostly starting in the defensive zone) and has one goal. This goes to show that Lars Eller has been carrying a subpar 3rd line in tough deployment way beyond expectations.

With Galchenyuk possibly moving to center, that makes room for Eller to center the 2nd line, with Plekanec on the 3rd or as possible trade bait. The logical move would be to trade David Desharnais who has been frustrating to watch ever since he started. He is supposedly a 1st or 2nd line center, but his offensive numbers do not warrant this reputation. Moreover, he is a one dimensional hockey player who doesn’t kill penalties, doesn’t play in a shutdown role, is not physical and rarely shoots the puck. He plays a passive style of hockey, often avoiding traffic, and as a result, his impact in any given game is insignificant. Whereas Lars Eller can play a shutdown role, can play the penalty kill, doesn’t avoid traffic, drives possession and creates the majority of scoring chances he’s given.

The weaknesses of Desharnais’s style of play are exasperated in tight checking playoff hockey to the point where he becomes invisible. When a player, especially a “top six center”, should be elevating his game – Desharnais does the opposite. His playoff performances in Montreal have been downright embarrassing. Playing top minutes, top power play time and gift wrapped offensive zone opportunities with Pacioretty on his wing (one of the premier goal scorers in the league), he has managed only three goals (one of which was an empty netter) and 10 assists in 38 playoff games. Those numbers are underwhelming to say the least. This is beyond unacceptable, especially for a team that is starved for offense.

Lars Eller, on the other hand, is a proven clutch playoff performer. In round one of this year’s playoffs against the Ottawa Senators, Eller had a 56.52% Corsi (+4.06% relative) with 19.05 offensive zone starts. In the 2014 playoffs, he was 2nd on the team for playoff points (right behind PK Subban) finishing the post season with five goals, eight assists for a total of 13 points. Eller has 18 points in 37 post season games. In a defensive shut down role, Eller has more points than Desharnais whose only responsibility is to generate offense. Eller obtained the majority of these points while playing with enigmatic veteran Rene Bourque and an aging captain Brian Gionta.

What are your thoughts? What should we expect from Lars Eller?

Follow me on Twitter @Patrick__Tallon.

16 Comments

  1. Wayne McCrae

    July 7, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Always said Eller should have a shot at the top two lines and PP and left there. MT has misused this player beyond contemptability (If that’s a word).

  2. Richard Dore

    July 7, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    What a good article Mr. Tallon. I don’t understand that so many people know this but the hockey brass continue to put D. Desharnais on the first line, first wave of the power play and so on and so on. At Mr. Bergevin July 1st address to the habs fan he was a little upset that he was asked by a reporter that the Habs are playing a defensive style of play. I don’t know why he got upset because that is exactly what they are playing. We are surely not playing an offensive style of play because we can’t score worth a dam. So there are not to many options left as style of play. We have a good defence and then we have CAREY PRICE. If our galie gets hurt during the year and is off for a while the Canadiens don’t even make the playoffs. We finished at the top of the league because our goalie was a superstar and a good defence. We need a few top six forward and we didn’t get any yet. Mr. Yagr was available last season and mind you his age is up there but he did manage to put up impressive numbers for a guy that age. Don’t know about but I didn’t see any other player in Habs lineup with those stats.(Paciorety excluded). Anyway we will give Marc Bergevin time to come up with solutions. But D. Desharnais on the first line is not one of them.

  3. Hugo

    July 7, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Is this an article about how much you like Eller or about how bad you hate Desharnais?

  4. you know

    July 7, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    PT cruiser this is a great article i wish all hockey fans saw the game the same way you and some other do

  5. 24cups

    July 7, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    i think he is just stating the facts

  6. Curry

    July 7, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    My boi Kobe, semi-mediocre read, keep it up :)))

  7. 24

    July 8, 2015 at 8:14 am

    i think mr tallon sees the obvious and is frustrated that the wrong person is getting accolades and ice time when someone like eller has more than proved himself…check his points and stats. it is in the above article

  8. Norm Noel

    July 8, 2015 at 11:27 am

    We need to trade Eller now for offensive help. This guy has no clue how to produce offence. He’s overated by many to help ease the fact we where robbed in the Halak trade.

  9. Richard Dore

    July 8, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I don’t hate Desharnais, I just don’t think he should be playing on the first line and powerplay with the numbers he is showing. I think you should give a chance and not just two or three shifts to Eller or anybody else and see what they can do. It definetely does not need to be Eller but give others a chance to prove themselves.

  10. noah

    July 8, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Another anti dd article…eller stinks ..cant shoot a puck. Cant pass. Decent on the walls. That’s about it.

  11. Niz

    July 9, 2015 at 12:03 am

    Mr.tallon ur quite the man posting an article like this, some would even say u have balls, when are u going to apply as head coach??!!!!!

  12. Norm Noel

    July 9, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Eller is done as a hab if they are serious about improving.

  13. Richard Dore

    July 9, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Can’t produce offence if you are playing a defencive roll or playing with inferior players. Desharnais is playing with the best Montreal has and is not producing offence. What is there to be said of that.

  14. Richard Dore

    July 9, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Are you for real…..

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  16. Patrick Tallon

    August 13, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Can’t pass? This looks like a pretty good pass to me

    https://youtu.be/xjJ7FheCkCU