December 21 2011 12:38PM
The Oilers drafted Anton Lander 40th overall in 2009, and he spent the next two season playing for Timra in the SEL before making his NHL debut this past October. Lander has played 29 games and during the 10:43 TOI/game he's tallied one goal (shorthanded) and three points, is -2 and is 40.9% in the dot.
Not bad numbers, but if the Oilers are serious about the future they need to make a decision quickly regarding what is best for his development.
Yesterday I wrote how excited Magnus Paajarvi was to be playing lots of minutes in the AHL, and he realized the imporantace of developing his game, and I feel the Oilers have two easy choices to make regarding Lander.
Move him up to the 3rd line and play him 13-15 minutes a game or send him to OKC where he can play even more minutes, and replace him with Ryan O'Marra.
If the Oilers are serious about developing and winning, then wouldn't Lander in OKC and O'Marra up here make sense? Look at Lander's numbers; is he making that much of an impact on the outcome of most games? It's not a knock on him, but he's a 4th line guy right now, and I doubt very few 4th line centres change the outcome of many games.
In three games this year O'Marra tallied one assist was an even player (+/-) and was 71.4% in the dot. I know he wouldn't be that dominant over 29 games in the dot, but he can kill penalties and win some draws, while Lander plays 17-18 minutes a night in the AHL.
I understand that they want to have kids: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins playing meaningful and intense games down the stretch, but they have to look at the big picture as well. Many believe Lander will be a solid 3rd liner in the future, and maybe even a low-end 2nd line centre, and if that is the case then he needs to be playing in all situations in the AHL.
He hasn't been able to work on his offensive game at all this year in his role. He's been pretty decent as a checker, but if they want him to be a two-way player then he has to play in some offensive situations, and right now that will only happen in OKC.
WHAT ABOUT THE 3RD LINE?
The other option would be to move him to the 3rd line in place of the struggling Eric Belanger. I've talked about this for weeks, and today at practice the Oilers had Lander on the third line with Sam Gagner and Ryan Jones. If the Oilers are committed to playing him there for an extended period then that's the only reason he should still be here.
I'm stunned at how many people feel that developing your game and earning your keep in the AHL is somehow a major a slap in the face to young players. Numerous players spent a year, two or even three before becoming a regular in the best league in the world.
At times I sense the Oilers even feel a bit of trepidation about sending young players who are on cusp of making the team down to the minors. I don't understand why Lander wasn't there from the start of the year. Sure, he played okay, but would he be that much better than O'Marra. Maybe O'Marra is the big, strong 4th line centre who can win draws this team will need moving forward?
He might not be, but considering how high they are on Lander, then why didn't they look at the big picture and have him develop in OKC? Too often this organization sends mixed messages. They want to win to gain experience for their young players, and also to reward their incredibly loyal fans, but has Lander really helped in achieving the former?
If Tom Renney is going to use him in a 3rd line role for an extended period of time moving forward, then I can understand why they keep him here, but if it is only a short stint, they should make the right long-term decision and exchange Lander with O'Marra and see what they have in both players.
It is easy to keep top-end players like RNH, Hall and Eberle in the NHL, and they be the key pieces moving forward, but the development of their complimentary and role players is vital if they plan on being a consistent contending team.
It seems music and tattoos go hand-in-hand and for day 14 of "Helping Others" we've come up an awesome
Rock N' Roll package.
Today up for auction for the Christmas Bureau will be:
- $2,500 in tattoo work at Atomic Zombie. The GCs are in $100 denominations so you can use them between friends or family. AZ has been voted the top Tattoo place in Edmonton for the 2nd straight year in See Magazine.
- $1,000 gift card at Long and McQuade. An incredible music store.
- And an awesome 2 days (16 hours) of studio recording time at The AUDIO Department including an Engineer and an assistant. And you can use any of their equipment. Unreal.
A huge thank you to Kerry at the Audio Department for the studio and for generously donating the gift card and some of the GCs at Atomic Zombie.
To bid you can call 780.426.8326 or email email@example.com. Bidding starts at 2 p.m and ends at 5:45 MST with 100% of the money going to the Christmas Bureau.
Over 60,000 people need help from the Christmas Bureau so if you can't bid on this package, but you want help you can donate here or you can make a quick donation on your phone. Just text: "Christmas" to 45678 for a $10 donation or "Hamper" to 45678 for $5.