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Habs’ Eller at ease with new deal

After signing a new four-year contract with the Canadiens in July, center Lars Eller enters his fifth season in Montreal at ease with his situation.

Eller came to terms on a new deal, which will pay him $14 million over the next four seasons, just ahead of arbitration.

“I’m happy to be here for the next four years and looking forward to keep building on what we’re building here in Montreal,” Eller said last week. “I’m very excited for the future and I hope the organization is as well.”

Eller figures to be team’s third line center behind Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais. With the depatrues of forwards Thomas Vanek, Brian Gionta and Daniel Briere, more will be expected from the 25-year-old, who scored 12 goals and 26 points in 77 games last season.

“(They’re) guys that have been here for… right from when I came in and even before that they were here, but its’ the natural course of sports,” said Eller speaking of Georges and Gionta. “Changes are going to be made. New groups are going to be formed and it’s going to happen sooner or later. It’s going to be fun to see where this team is going to be heading.”

In the hockey hotbed of Montreal, where the Canadiens got to the Eastern Conference final last season, expectations are high heading into the 2014-15 season.

Eller knows signing a new contract will mean more expectations from the Habs’ faithful.

“I know the more money you make, the more pressure there’s going to be from the fans and the higher the expectations are going to be,” he said. “I always have a high expectation of myself. It’s not something I really think about. I’m just happy I’m set for the next four years.”

Eller did show he could produce at the NHL level when he had eight goals and 30 points in 46 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

This season Eller will likely paired with some combination of Rene Bourque, Brandon Prust or Michael Bournival as head coach Michel Therrien finds the right mix among his forward group.

With the new deal, and knowing where he’ll call home for at least the next four years, Eller admitted to having piece of mind heading into the new season.

“You can certainly make that argument and it’s different for every individual,” he said.  “For me, it’s very important, and nice, to know that you have the organization behind you, you have their trust and they have confidence in you. That’s something that’s very important to me and hopefully going to make me the best out there that I can.”

General manager Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens organization will have piece of mind if Eller can help replace the scoring lost with Gionta, Vanek, Briere departing.

Related: Under Pressure: P.K. Subban

Hurricanes extend contract of head coach Bill Peters

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The Carolina Hurricanes may have missed the playoffs in each of Bill Peters’ two seasons behind the bench, but GM Ron Francis is clearly pleased with the job his head coach has done.

Today, the ‘Canes announced that Peters has been signed to a contract extension through the 2018-19 season.

“Bill is a talented, young coach in the National Hockey League,” said Francis in a release. “We are happy that he has made a commitment to the Hurricanes, and that he will be a major part of the team continuing to grow.”

The ‘Canes still won’t be a popular pick to make the playoffs in 2016-17, but with all the young talent that the organization has amassed, Peters will certainly be expected to get them there before his contract expires. (The ‘Canes were actually a pretty solid possession team last season, but were let down by their goaltending and inability to convert scoring chances.)

Carolina last made the playoffs in 2009.

Related: ‘Canes enjoying stronger ticket sales, but ‘fence-sitters’ still need convincing

Report: Caps draftee DiPauli heading to free agency

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23:  Thomas Dipauli, 100th overall pick, walks on the draft floor during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Just like Jimmy Vesey, Thomas DiPauli appears ready to test the open market.

DiPauli, a Notre Dame forward taken 100th overall by Washington at the 2012 draft, will reportedly hold out past the Aug. 15 deadline to sign with the Caps and head to unrestricted free agency, per ESPN.

A 22-year-old that’s spent the last four years playing for the Fighting Irish, DiPauli scored 14 goals and 32 points in 37 games last year, finishing as the team’s offensive MVP while earning honorable mention Hockey East All-Star honors.

DiPauli was a notable absence at Washington’s recent prospect development camp. More on that, per CSN Mid Atlantic:

[DiPauli] has attended previous Caps development camps, so the club decided not to invite him this summer.

According to a team spokesman the Caps remain interested in signing DiPauli by the NHL’s Aug. 15 deadline.   

ESPN corroborated DiPauli’s interest in signing with the Caps, but it’s not surprising to hear he’s looking for opportunities with another organization.

Washington is fairly loaded at forward, and still has a handful of young prospects in the system — including ’14 first-rounder Jakub Vrana, recent Boston College signee Zach Sanford and 24-year-old Russian winger Stanislav Galiev, who was stuck in healthy scratch limbo for long stretches this season as the club didn’t want to lose him on waivers.

As mentioned above, DiPauli could play the open market like Vesey plans to later next month.

Though Buffalo traded to acquire his rights from Nashville, the reigning Hobey Baker winner has a shortlist of other teams he’s interested in signing with.

Bolts avoid arbitration with Namestnikov — two years, $3.875M

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Tampa Bay has avoided Friday’s scheduled arbitration hearing with forward Vladislav Namestnikov, agreeing to a two-year, $3.875M deal on Tuesday evening, per ESPN.

Namestnikov, 23, had a breakout campaign last year, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games — all career highs. The former first-round pick also appeared in 17 playoff games for the Bolts, scoring a goal and three points while helping the club to the Eastern Conference Final.

Coming off a one-year deal in which he made $874,125, the diminutive Russian gets a nice pay bump with this latest contract, and a bit of security with the two-year term. He should play a fairly integral role next season, coming off a year in which he finished tied for fourth on the team in goals, with Tyler Johnson.

But while tonight may be about Namestnikov, it’s another Russian forward in Tampa Bay that everybody now has their eyes on — Nikita Kucherov, the playoff scoring sensation that declined to file for arbitration, but still requires a new deal.

Given some of the big-money contracts GM Steve Yzerman has handed out this summer — namely those to Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn — the Kucherov negotiations are definitely ones to keep an eye on.

Talks ongoing between Wild and Dumba, meeting expected soon

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There’s just one piece of business left for Minnesota this summer — a new contract for RFA defenseman Matt Dumba.

And it sounds like that piece of business will soon be attended to.

From the Star-Tribune:

There have been ongoing talks between Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr and [Dumba’s] agent Craig Oster.

The two are expected to meet face to face in Calgary at the Hockey Canada camp.

Dumba, the former No. 7 overall pick, just wrapped his entry-level deal, coming off a campaign in which he set career highs in games played (81), goals (10) and points (26).

He also notched a pair of assists in the Wild’s six-game loss to Dallas in the playoffs.

Dumba, 22, did see his name surface in trade talks this season. There was a report in late January that he was the return piece in a potential swap for Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, and he’s been tied to teams looking for a blueline upgrade.

A good puck mover with offensive skills — and a right-handed shot — Dumba is definitely a commodity. What’s more, logic suggests the Wild could opt to move him, given the long-term financial commitments to fellow defensemen Ryan Suter (signed through 2025 at $7.53 million), Jonas Brodin (2021 at $4.16M), Jared Spurgeon (2020, $5.18M) and Marco Scandella (2020, $4M).

Minnesota has some other young defensive prospects in the system, too.

There’s former Gophers standout Mike Reilly, Miami of Ohio product Louis Belpedio and Gustav Olofsson, the 46th overall pick in ’13 that’s been honing his game in AHL Iowa (and made his NHL debut last season).

The Wild are in control of the Dumba situation and can slow play negotiations, possibly while re-exploring trade scenarios. Don’t forget the Bruins are still in search of the “transitional” defenseman they desperately want.

But should things go the expected way and Dumba re-signs in Minnesota, the Star-Tribune said a bridge deal is the “likeliest” outcome.