Canadiens, Eller avoid arbitration with 4-year deal worth a reported $14 million

The Montreal Canadiens have avoided salary arbitration with center Lars Eller, agreeing to terms with the Danish-born checking forward on a four-year contract, the club announced Thursday

The deal is worth $14 million and will carry an averaged annual value of $3.5 million per season, according to a report from TVA's Renaud Lavoie.

Eller was excited about the contract, and why not? The settlement will carry an additional $400,000 in annual value beyond what his side had asked for with their arbitration award target.

So why is Eller's new cap-hit so much higher than what his side was poised to ask for at a salary arbitration hearing that had been scheduled for Friday? Because the Canadiens essentially bought out two of Eller's more expensive unrestricted free agent seasons with this contract.

That's reflected in the breakdown of the deal. Eller will make $2.5 million in each of the next two years (his restricted free agent seasons), before taking home $9 million (an average of $4.5 million per season) in the final two years of the contract, according to a report from Elliotte Friedman.

Eller's four-year deal is essentially a bet on Eller continuing to develop as a useful top-nine (or even as a top-six) forward. The 25-year-old center's salary cap-hit will be higher than it would've been with a bridge-type deal during the first two seasons of his new contract, but that'll likely save the Canadiens a good chunk of salary cap space over the latter half of Eller's contract. At least that's the wager that Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has placed. 

The Canadiens - who were sitting on over $15 million in cap-space according to capgeek.com - basically traded a manageable amount of short-term pain, for some long-term gain. 

Montreal still has one salary arbitration hearing scheduled for next week, and it's a big one, with franchise cornerstone P.K. Subban scheduled to have his player-elected salary arbitration hearing on August 1.

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Canadiens, Eller avoid arbitration with 4-year deal worth a reported $14 million
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