Loveland Reporter-Herald

Avalanche acquire Eller from Capitals

Colorado sends draft pick to Washington ahead of deadline

- By Bennett Durando

The Avalanche traded for depth center Lars Eller from the Capitals on Wednesday, the team announced.

Colorado sent Washington a 2025 second-round pick in return, while the Capitals retain 31% of Eller’s $3.5 million cap hit, a team spokespers­on told The Post. Eller, 33, is on the final season of a five-year contract.

His flight to Denver landed about two hours before Colorado hosted the Devils at 7 p.m. MT. He arrived at Ball Arena past 6 p.m., got dressed and joined his new teammates late during pregame warm-ups. During line rushes, Eller skated between Andrew Cogliano and Logan O’connor on the third line. He flew in from Anaheim, where the Capitals were set to face the Ducks.

Eller had seven goals and nine assists for the Caps (0.27 points per game) this season. He’s a penalty killer who will likely fit into the Avalanche lineup as a bottomsix center with Alex Newhook. Coach Jared Bednar described Eller as a third-line center. The acquisitio­n means J.T. Compher is likely to remain at 2C for the stretch run, barring any other deals before the 1 p.m. Friday NHL trade deadline.

With the Avs sending away another draft pick in the trade, they are now without their 2023, ’24 and ’25 second-round picks. The organizati­on also doesn’t have third-round picks this year or next.

With 31% of Eller’s salary retained, Colorado is on the hook for $2.415 million. The trade leaves flexibilit­y, for now, regarding captain Gabriel Landeskog’s regular-season fate.

He remains on long-term injury reserve, and a decision looms about whether he needs to remain on LTIR until the playoffs while recovering from an October knee surgery.

The Avs have now used $2.5 million of Landeskog’s LTIR cap space, leaving $4.5 million remaining, according to Capfriendl­y. If Landeskog is to come off

LTIR before the regular season ends, Colorado will be over the cap, meaning the organizati­on would need to whittle down.

Eller is a Danish lefthanded shot who has played in the NHL since 2009-10, when he was drafted 13th overall for the St. Louis Blues. He spent six seasons

in Montreal and six-plus in Washington, scoring two of the most important goals of the Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup run. Down 2-0 in a firstround series against Columbus, Eller potted a rebound in the second overtime of Game 3 to avoid the dreaded 3-0 deficit and start Washington’s comeback. Then in

Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final vs. Vegas, he scored the eventual championsh­ipwinning goal with 7:37 remaining to put the Caps up 4-3.

“Solid, big, strong. … Penalty killer. Good on draws. Lots of experience,” Bednar said. “This is a good pickup. We need help in the middle

of the ice.”

Eller has 160 career goals and 204 helpers in 930 games. He has played in 96 career playoff games, compiling 49 points (15 goals, 34 assists) and reaching the conference finals twice and the Stanley Cup Final once.

“We’ve talked about (experience) recently with Jack

Johnson, (Matt) Nieto,” Bednar said. “Some of these players that we’re bringing in are veteran guys that have been there, done that. Still hungry to win. They have one (ring). It’s good to have. You need that experience, and you need those players that are capable of playing under that type of pressure.”

 ?? ANDY CROSS — THE DENVER POST ?? Avalanche center Lars Eller warms up before playing the Devils at Ball Arena on Wednesday.
ANDY CROSS — THE DENVER POST Avalanche center Lars Eller warms up before playing the Devils at Ball Arena on Wednesday.
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