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Lars Eller Had ‘Mixed Emotions’ Leaving Capitals, Trade Interest From ‘Bunch Of Teams’

Former Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller opens up about his trade to the Colorado Avalanche, the quick turnaround for his debut, his time in D.C. and more.



Lars Eller arrived at Ball Arena just 15 minutes before he was scheduled to take the ice for his Colorado Avalanche debut on Wednesday, making it to Denver just in time hours after he was traded from the Washington Capitals, who were in Anaheim for a game against the Ducks.

Not only was it a strange day for Eller, who took in his new home quickly before having to throw on his gear and get a quick rundown of the X's and O's on the fly before puck drop, but it was an emotional one as well as he said goodbye to the team he had been with since 2016.

"It's very mixed emotions. Like, been there for almost seven years and been on some playoff runs every single year and won together with a bunch of those guys," Eller reflected following his team's 7-5 loss to the New Jersey Devils. "So leaving so many good memories and ups and downs behind with a bunch of guys, it’s weird and emotional. But at the same time also excited to be here and do something special… it’s just odd, it’s all I can say, but I’m glad to be where I am.”

With Washington still sitting outside of playoff territory and struggling down the stretch, general manager Brian MacLellan is taking the "seller" approach to the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline and has unloaded a number of pending free agents. It started with Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway last week, and MacLellan also shipped out Marcus Johansson and Erik Gustafsson on Tuesday before trading away Eller on Wednesday.

Eller wasn't surprised by the move and had been expecting it given the team's moves leading up to his trade and his pending UFA status. In fact, he even packed a couple of extra bags ahead of time knowing he may be on the move.

And according to the Dane, there were quite a few teams who wanted to acquire him, though he was hoping that the defending Stanley Cup champions would be his landing spot.

"I know I was one of the guys they were available to move," he said. "There was a bunch of teams interested, and I was kinda hoping it was gonna be here. So I'm glad that is the case.”

Through 61 games this season, Eller has seen his share of inconsistency, dishing just seven goals and nine assists. He skated 14:28 minutes in his Avalanche debut, picking up one shot while centering the third line.

For the 32-year-old, Colorado provides him with a chance to start over and show what he can do as he prepares to hit free agency on July 1.

"I’m happy to be on this side of the ice with these guys here and go to battle with them," Eller said. "it’s a special opportunity to be on a team being in a playoff spot and having the history here…. feel privileged to be here.”

As he takes in "new faces all around me," Eller is looking forward to making the most of his ice time and helping the team push for another strong playoff run and potentially win another Cup, just as he did with Washington back in 2018 when he secured the title with the Game 5 winner.

First, though, Eller will get an off day on Thursday, giving him the chance to clear his mind and take in his new surroundings. And the first item on his agenda: tune out the outside noise, head to the Avalanche team store and pick his kids up some new gear.

"My phone has been red-hot all day," he said, adding with a grin, "It's been a weird day."

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