Lars Eller easily fell under expectations this year

Lars Eller, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Lars Eller, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Washington Capitals have had their fair share of struggles throughout the season but nobody has struggled more than Lars Eller. Eller will always be loved in D.C. as he was one of the best third line centers in the game and scored two clutch goals during the Caps Cup run.

One was an important goal to keep their season alive. The other sealed the team’s first Stanley Cup.

But the way Eller has been playing as well as the emergence of Connor McMichael has left a big question: what does the future hold for the tiger?

It looks like Eller could be moved this offseason even if he were to turn it around and make that decision harder for General Manager Brian MacLellan. Part of Eller’s struggles aren’t necessarily his fault.

Eller had two positive COVID tests this season and both times he had to quarantine in a hotel room. He has just 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points. In fact he’s been struggling the last two seasons as last season he had to deal with an injury that sidelined him for 12 games.

McMichael, despite not getting enough playing time, has already had a look at center while Eller has shifted to the wing. If Eller were to be moved this offseason, like my friend Tarik El-Bashir noted in his mailbag in The Athletic (subscription required), it can open up a chance for McMichael to gain a full time role next season.

Eller has gotten better. He did score the game winning goal against the Boston Burins, but for an older team trying to get younger, to have a better balance of veterans and youth in a Cup window that’s closing, it might be good to move Eller and his $3.5 million cap hit to create room for a big signing at free agency.

Hot. Tom Wilson will have a huge impact in the NHL Playoffs. light

Ideally, the Caps could use a versatile third or fourth line winger to help complement McMichael. At least, that’s what I would do. If the Caps were to make a deep run and Eller has a breakout postseason, the decision will be even harder.