The Washington Capitals are continuing to be sellers, as they have now traded Lars Eller to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a 2025 second-round pick. The Capitals will be retaining $1.085 million of Eller’s salary, so he will carry a $2.415 million cap hit for the Avalanche.
NEWS | The Washington Capitals have acquired a 2025 second-round pick from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Lars Eller.— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 1, 2023
Eller is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA), so his name was starting to pick up steam in the rumor mill. Now, he is joining the Avalanche as they aim to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
Avalanche Add to Center Depth
One objective for the Avalanche at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline was to improve their center depth. Now, they have done just that with this Eller acquisition. The 33-year-old gives them another solid two-way forward who kills penalties and chips in offensively. With that, the 2007 first-round pick also has a Stanley Cup on his resume and plenty of NHL experience, so he will bring more leadership to their group as well.
After posting a 31-point campaign in 72 games last season, Eller’s numbers are down in 2022-23, as he has just seven goals and 16 points in 60 games played. Although his offensive totals have taken a dip this season, he will still be a serviceable bottom-six forward for the Avalanche. When looking at a specific spot for him in the Avalanche’s lineup, he could be a potential option at the third-line center position. However, he also can play left wing, so perhaps he could serve as an upgrade over Andrew Cogliano on that line.
The Avalanche needed to strengthen their forward depth, and this is especially so with their injury trouble this season. Therefore, this move has the potential to be solid for them. If Eller can find his previous scoring touch, this will be even more the case.
Capitals Get Good Return for Eller
Although Eller is having a rough season for his standards, the Capitals still managed to secure a 2025 second-round pick for him. That is certainly a good return for Eller, as it gives Washington another second-round draft pick to work with. Although they will need to wait a few years to use it, that return is a better than many would have expected for Eller given his struggles.
Related: 2023 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker
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Eller is just the latest veteran pending UFA that the Capitals have moved, and he will likely not be the last. Washington has embraced being sellers, as they have also moved Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway, Marcus Johansson, and Erik Gustafsson this month. Other pending UFAs who could be dealt the same fate include Conor Sheary, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Matt Irwin. The goal for Washington right now is to acquire as many assets to help with their future as possible, and this Eller trade is just the latest example of this plan.
Overall, this looks like a good trade on paper for both teams. The Avalanche have added an experienced forward who will provide their bottom six with a nice boost. Meanwhile, the Capitals have landed another quality draft pick for a player who they could have potentially lost for nothing this summer. Yet, we will need to wait and see how this move impacts both clubs.