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.
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