Washington Capitals trade Lars Eller to Colorado Avalanche


ANAHEIM, Calif. — Already in the midst of a massive sell-off as the NHL trade deadline approaches, the Washington Capitals took another step on Wednesday, trading center Lars Eller to the Colorado Avalanche for a draft pick. second round in 2025.

Eller becomes the fifth Capitals veteran to be traded before Friday’s deadline — Washington traded defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway to the Boston Bruins last week and on Tuesday defenseman Erik Gustaffson to the Toronto Maple Leafs and forward Marcus Johansson at the Minnesota Wild. All of these players were set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of this season.

It’s the first time in Brian MacLellan’s nine years as general manager that he’s been a sellout at the deadline – and he’s been aggressive over the past week to rebuild the team’s defensive personnel. and add future draft capital.

The Capitals landed three picks in the deal for Orlov and Hathaway, including a 2023 first-round pick, which MacLellan reversed in the deal with the Maple Leafs, sending that pick and Gustaffson in exchange for 22-year-old defenseman Rasmus. sandin. Later that night, the Capitals bolstered their blue line by re-signing defenseman Nick Jensen to a three-year contract.

The Capitals, who will keep 31% of Eller’s salary, have racked up picks in their three deals — they still own a 2025 second-rounder and a 2024 third-rounder in the deal for Orlov and Hathaway, and earned the pick Minnesota’s third-round 2024 in trade for Johanson.

Acquiring Eller will bolster Colorado’s roster with a veteran who has deep playoff experience and has shown a knack for scoring playoff goals in a timely manner. Eller, 33, is a versatile forward, adept at shooting on goal — and he’s affordable, with just one year remaining on his contract at a cap of $3.5 million.

A former first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2007, Eller had established himself as a respected leader in the Capitals locker room during his tenure in Washington. He was a key contributor during the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run in 2018 and scored arguably the biggest goal in Capitals history, the game-winner late in Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights. to clinch the team’s first Stanley Cup title.

But injuries and health issues have increased in recent years as his production has dwindled, including this season; Eller has seven goals and nine assists in his first 60 games. He has scored just one goal in 30 games, and none in his last 26.

Eller’s trade came about an hour before the Capitals were due on the ice for their morning practice ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Sandin joined the team for his optional skating Wednesday morning, getting some extra work with the assistant coaches after most of the players were off the ice. It wasn’t immediately clear if Sandin would be ready for Wednesday night’s game – he was sorting out immigration and visa issues that arose following Tuesday’s move. He still met his new teammates when he left the ice. One of the only players he knows is veteran Nicklas Backstrom, also from Sweden, Sandin’s home country.

“There are a lot of new faces, but I like it. It’s great fun meeting new people,” Sandin said. “Obviously you want to prove yourself and get the role you want. It’s not just about coming here and being given the role you want. I’m ready for that.

Washington’s blue line is always on the move; John Carlson, who was hit in the head by a puck in December, remains out and veteran Trevor van Riemsdyk could be moved before Friday’s deadline. But for now, the acquisition of Sandin and the extension of Jensen provide stability for the future.

“It was a tough time here last week with our team, losing guys, brothers in your locker room,” Jensen said. “It’s hard to be happy with what’s going on, but at the same time I’m excited to be here. I’m happy to stay. I’m excited for what the future holds.

Even as his name swirled with trade speculation, Eller said last week that he was focused on staying professional and helping the Capitals out of their midseason slump. He was emotional as he described the loss of Orlov and Hathaway after they became the first tokens to fall amid Washington’s roster overhaul.

“Emotional goodbyes… It’s not fun, is it?” he said after they left, and now, after seven years with the franchise, it will be his turn to say goodbye.

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