It was back in November of 2009 when the St. Louis Blues called up a young prospect as an “emergency” because one of their regular roster players was injured. The prospect, Lars Eller, made his NHL debut on November 5, 2009, and would score in the game.
Eller met with Mike Vogel following the Capitals morning skate on Saturday, where he discussed his first game and first goal in the NHL.
“Tonight it’s going to be a big challenge to contain some of the best offensive teams in the league – maybe the best. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”@lellerofficial on Rinkside Update ahead of his 800th career game tonight. #CapsBolts | @MedStarHealth pic.twitter.com/R4tJziHAUJ
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 16, 2021
Now, nearly 12 years and two teams later, Eller played in his 800th career NHL game Saturday night when the Capitals hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game marked his 358th game with the Capitals. Eller additionally played 435 games with the Montreal Canadiens and seven with the St. Louis Blues.
Eller became the second Danish-born player in NHL history to reach the mark, joining Frans Nielsen (925 games). Last season, Eller finished with 23 points (8g, 15a) in 44 games, his third-highest points per game rate in a season in his career (2012-13: 0.65; 2019-20: 0.57).
Eller was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues with the 13th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
He remained with the Blues for five more games before being returned to their AHL team, the Peoria Rivermen, where he played until being called up near the end of the season. He ultimately played in seven games total for the Blues in 2009-10.
The Blues traded Eller to the Montreal Canadiens after the season for goalie Jaroslav Halak. He remained with the Montreal Canadiens for the next six season, playing both center and wing for them. After the 2015-16 season, during the 2016 NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals acquired Eller from Montreal for two second round picks. At the time of the trade, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan noted a need for speed and for a third-line center.
Eller has been with the Capitals ever since, usually at the third line center position, but would move up to second line center when either of the team’s top two centers, Nicklas Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov, were out.
There have been many highlights for Eller during his tenure with the Capitals, especially during their run to the Stanley Cup in 2017-18. There was the game winning goal in double overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game Three of the First Round.
During the playoff run, he played at the second line center role when Nicklas Backstrom was out with a broken finger for several games.
Eller had a goal and two assists in the second game of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Las Vegas Knights, when the Caps evened the series at one game apiece. Then, there was the game winning goal in Game 5, that proved to be the Stanley Cup Finals series winner.
Congratulations to Lars Eller on his 800th career game in the NHL.
By Diane Doyle