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After Tough Season, Eller The ‘Best Version’ Of Himself Now For Capitals



Washington Capitals Lars Eller

ARLINGTON, V.A. — Leading the pack in skate tests and taking part in testing at Washington Capitals training camp, Lars Eller was setting new personal highs and matching career records as he prepares to bounce back in 2022-23.

Last season was by no means easy for the Dane. He managed 31 points in 72 games while dealing with inconsistency and two bouts of COVID-19, as well as lengthy quarantine periods. However, he said coming into this year, he is in the best shape of his life and has left that all in the rearview.

“I’m the best version of myself that I can be going into this year,” Eller said. “Had a good summer, good preparation, no injuries bugging me. My testing… physically, I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Eller is competing for the second-line center spot, as well as more ice time, in camp as the team looks to fill Nicklas Backstrom’s void. The 33-year-old got a look up there earlier in camp, but Dylan Strome was in that spot on Thursday as No. 20 took over as the 3C with Marcus Johansson and Conor Sheary.

“He’s such a hard worker. He can play both offense and defense, and I find he’s rarely out of position and also one of those guys who is very easy to play with,” Johansson said of his center. “He’s strong on the puck and makes plays… you can go out and do your thing and he’s always going to be there to support you and work to win the puck back and all that. Very easy to play with him.”

READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Tweak Lines, Move McMichael Down At Training Camp

Going into the new campaign, Eller is emphasizing speed. He spent a lot of his time working with skating coach Wendy Marco this summer, and he believes that he has gotten to a point where he can make a lot of noise and bring stability for the Capitals down the middle.

“It’s just getting up to speed with the pace of the game. The pace of making decisions a lot quicker,” Eller said with regard to his approach this season. “‘Cause physicality in corners and all that stuff may not be there as much in practice now. In games, it’s real. So get your timing down and the pace of making decisions quickly, the way you can only kind of do it in a game. Ready for that part now.”

Eller is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in July. Taking that into account, as well as the intense center competition, he is ready to capitalize on all of his opportunities this season in the District.

“I got all the confidence in the world i can go out and make it a great season,” Eller said.

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