MONTREAL — Time is running out on the Canadiens and Lars Eller to avoid what could be a messy arbitration hearing on Friday.
The two sides exchanged figures Wednesday and there’s a huge gap to bridge if they are to reach an agreement. The Canadiens offered $1.65 million, a modest raise over the $1.5 million Eller earned last season. The player’s camp countered with a request for $3.1 million.
The exchange of figures usually ramps up the negotiations and only one of the first 14 scheduled arbitration hearings in the National Hockey League have gone to an arbitrator. The trend continued Wednesday when Ryan O’Reilly agreed to a two-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche worth $12 million and Chris Kreider signed for two years and $4.95 million with the New York Rangers.
There was a time during the season when Eller’s long-term future with the Canadiens was in doubt, but a full-time move to centre late in the year turned things around for the Dane. After collecting 12 goals and 14 assists in 77 regular-season games, Eller blossomed in the playoffs with five goals and eight assists in 17 games.
The only Canadien with more points in the playoffs was defenceman P.K. Subban, who has an Aug. 1 date with the arbitrator. There are ongoing negotiations between general manager Marc Bergevin and Subban’s agent, Don Meehan, but all indications are that the two sides are far apart on money. Subban earned $3.75 million last season when he had 10 goals and 43 assists in 82 regular-season games and five goals and nine assists in 17 playoff games.
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