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Eller excited to find stability with Capitals

Former Canadien will play third-line center for Washington

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Saying he was "excited" and would be a "great fit," Lars Eller sounded thrilled Monday to be a member of the Washington Capitals.

The forward, who played the past six seasons for the Montreal Candiens, was traded to Washington for second-round draft picks in 2017 and 2018 on Friday.

"I'm just really excited that they wanted me that much and that they see me fitting in the way they do," Eller said. "I'm going to go play for a Stanley Cup contender. It's fun playing on a winning team where they have a winning culture and they have a chance to play for a Cup. I'm honestly really excited about that."

Eller, 27, will slot into a third-line center position that was fluid for most of last season. General manager Brian MacLellan had said finding a third-line center would be a priority for the Capitals in the offseason in an effort to build a better top-nine forward group and upgrade the bottom-six. Trading for Eller was the first part of that process.

"I'm sure I'm going to get some good wingers that we're going to go out and I'm going to have fun playing with and create a lot of offense but at the same time be responsible defensively," Eller said. "There's nothing like winning and building winning chemistry and culture with your teammates. I hope to be able to accomplish that in Washington and do my part."

Video: Lars Eller on heading to the Washington Capitals

In six seasons with Montreal, Eller played center and left wing, but never had a truly defined role. He had 26 points in 79 games with the Canadiens in this season while logging time on the penalty kill and winning 50.6 percent of his faceoffs.

"It's going to be a great fit," Eller said. "I'm going to have [consistency in] a certain spot in a certain place with a certain role that's going to be defined and I think that ability is going to do me well so I'm really excited. I think deep down I am a center and that's where Washington sees me too. But I wouldn't have been without that experience in Montreal. I learned a lot, but I'm also excited to move on."

With the Capitals, Eller will have the stability he was missing in Montreal. With that stability comes a sense of relief for Eller, who has less pressure to be a jack-of-all trades and can focus on his role as Washington's third-line center.

"I'm a player that puts a lot of pressure on myself, and sometimes I probably put too much, and to me I was too hard on myself at times," Eller said. "Sometimes maybe it was too much and I didn't have as much fun playing and it hurt my game at times. That's just a learning experience."

Selected by the St. Louis Blues with the 13th pick of the 2007 NHL Draft, Eller played seven games for the Blues in 2009-10 before he was traded to Montreal with forward Ian Schultz for goaltender Jaroslav Halak on June 17, 2010. Though it's bittersweet for Eller to move on, he realizes how fortunate he was to be in one place for such a long time.

"Being in an organization for six seasons, in this business that's a long time," Eller said. "I don't think most of the players get to stay six years in one place. I'm excited to move on. I was happy, I had some great experiences here in Montreal and now it's a new chapter for me in my career."

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