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Lars Eller 'super excited' to join Capitals

Forward eager for new chapter with Washington after trade from Canadiens

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Lars Eller was 21 years old and single the first time he was traded, when he went from the St. Louis Blues to the Montreal Canadiens on June 17, 2010.

A lot has changed for Eller in the six years since, so switching teams is a bit more complicated this time after the Washington Capitals acquired him in a June 24 trade with the Canadiens for a second-round draft pick in the 2017 and 2018 NHL Drafts. That includes explaining to 3-year-old daughter Sophia that they'll be moving to a new city and a new home.

"What do you tell her?" the 27-year-old Dane asked Tuesday. "You're going to be moving. You're going to get into a new house. She seems excited, but we'll see once we get here. Obviously, it's a big transition. She asked for a pink room, so I'm going to try to give her that."

Video: Lars Eller on heading to the Washington Capitals

With that on their checklist, Eller and his wife, Julie, have been visiting the Washington area the past few days.

"We wanted to come in and see the city and try to find a place [to live], try to find a preschool and stuff like that to make the transition a little smoother and get those things done before the season starts," Eller said.

With the start of training camp two months away, the reality of the trade is settling in for Eller, but looking at houses, learning about school districts, and just finding his way around has made the transaction feel more tangible.

"It definitely does," he said. "When you spend six years in Montreal, it's like your second home almost, and when you come to a new organization, new city, there's a lot of new things, and to come in and maybe get some questions answered and just get a little bit familiar with everything feels really good."

Eller was able to get advice from defenseman Karl Alzner, who is in the area this summer rehabbing from sports hernia surgery, and some his other new teammates. Most of them live in Northern Virginia to be closer to the Capitals' practice facility in Arlington.
"Since I was traded I spoke to a handful of guys within a few days," Eller said. "I spoke to T.J. Oshie, who I know from my time in St. Louis. We spent quite some time together there, so I know him well. I texted with a few other guys. [Alex Ovechkin] was actually the first one to text me. It was a very short time after I got traded, so it's a nice feeling. We've been welcomed with open arms here."

Video: MTL@CAR: Eller reacts quickly, puts home rebound

Eller has yet to talk in person with general manager Brian MacLellan and coach Barry Trotz but knows from his telephone conversations with them that they intend for him to center the third line. MacLellan made the trade for Eller and signed unrestricted free agent Brett Connolly on July 1 with the hope of strengthening the Capitals' bottom six forwards.

That was an area MacLellan wanted to address after Washington lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the eventual Stanley Cup champion, in the Eastern Conference Second Round in May. It lost left wing Jason Chimera to the New York Islanders in unrestricted free agency, but most of the team that won the Presidents' Trophy and set a Capitals record with 56 wins remains intact. 

Eller, who had 13 goals and 13 assists in 79 games last season, is "super excited" about joining them. He missed out on the Stanley Cup Playoffs after the Canadiens' strong start was derailed by goaltender Carey Price's right knee injury.

"There's so many good things about this," Eller said. "As a team, I think we can compete for a Cup. They have all the pieces that's needed to be right there. I think it's just a matter of probably putting it together at the right time, but they have all the right pieces. From experience, it's a lot more fun to play on a team with a winning culture than it is the other way around. 

"I really enjoyed my time in Montreal, I learned a lot, but I'm very excited to join the Caps and turn the page and start a new chapter."

Eller has put his time with the Canadiens behind him, claiming he's paid no attention to the controversial moves they've made since his departure, including the trade that sent popular defenseman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Shea Weber and the signing of Russian free agent forward Alexander Radulov.

"I pulled the plug," Eller said.

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