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Capitals fill third line need with Lars Eller trade

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Moments after the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Auston Matthews with the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens added to the excitement by making a pair of deals.

Along with acquiring Andrew Shaw from the Chicago Blackhawks, GM Marc Bergevin dealt away Lars Eller to the Washington Capitals for second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.

Eller is signed for the next two seasons and carries a $3.5 million cap hit.

Capitals GM Brian MacLellan has now delivered yet again on an off-season promise. Two years ago he wanted to improve his defense so he went out and signed Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Last summer, he wanted to upgrade at right wing so he picked up T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams. 

This time around, MacLellan wanted to build a better third line and took his first step in dealing for Eller, who scored 13 goals and recorded 26 points in 79 games last season. The need for speed was evident following their second-round exit at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

“Maybe a little more offensive, a little more speed,” MacLellan told 106.7 in May. “I just think we need to reconfigure. We kind of reconfigured it on the go this year, the third and fourth lines, but we ended up with good penalty-killing groups that took our PK to the next level, but we didn’t get enough offense, I felt, out of our third and fourth lines in the end.”

For the Habs, moving out Eller's cap hit will now allow them to sign Shaw, currently an RFA, to a new deal.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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