Thursday, March 14, 2013
How do you like the trade now?
Were it not for PK Subban continuing to flaunt his increasingly undeniable credentials as a Norris Trophy frontrunner, Lars Eller would have been the best player on the ice at the Bell Center last night. With Subban casting a giant shadow, Eller settled for being the best forward by a substantial margin, and scored the first and last goals in a 4-3 win over Ottawa.
The numbers still don't scream all star, but for anyone who's watched Eller game in and game out, his development since coming over from St. Louis three summers ago is as obvious as it is impressive. Eller has an industriousness that not only complements but enhances his considerable natural ability. His work ethic last night earned Eller a shootout opportunity that he made the most of by undressing an overmatched Robin Lehner for the deciding goal in a game the Canadiens almost let slip away.
The deal to acquire Eller was widely ridiculed at the time and for some months - if not years - afterwards, but there's finally a broad consensus that former general manager Pierre Gauthier made the right choice when he kept Carey Price and traded Jaroslav Halak. At some point and however grudgingly, Gauthier has to be given credit for getting something approaching fair value in return for Halak, and if Eller's development continues apace, we might eventually have to entirely revisit the debate over fleeced whom.