March 31 2013 01:10PM
The Edmonton Oilers have recalled Anton Lander this afternoon, after a record breaking offensive performance for the Barons last night. Lander is likely to slot in on the 4th line, and could be here awhile.
Lander's reputation is as a checking C with some offense, but his 2 North American seasons have shown very little in the way of production (both in NHL and AHL); among the Oilers Euro kids, all of Magnus Paajarvi (currently in the NHL), Teemu Hartikainen (back in the AHL and scores a beautiful goal in the highlight package above) and Toni Rajala have shown more promise.
Not surprising. Lander's rep is as a checker, has been since draft day 2009:
- Bob McKenzie: Lander is a two-way checking forward with excellent outside speed. He can make plays at full speed and controls the puck with a lot of confidence. A very unselfish player, Lander is always aware of where his teammates are and makes good crisp passes. He is a hard working forechecker, keeping his feet moving all the time. With a strong quick release wrist shot, he often uses d-men as a screen off the offensive rush. Lander drives the net hard with and without the puck and doesn’t quit on the puck until the whistle goes. Reliable and disciplined, he brings a consistent effort to the rink every game and always improves his team’s chances of winning a game. Will adapt and play any role given by coach.”
In Sweden, Lander's offensive totals suggested that he would be a capable third line offensive player--assuming the defensive aspects of the game were covered. Lander's outstanding skating at the 2011 summer rookie camp got him noticed and inspired the organization to insert him into the NHL lineup:
Oilers Skating and Skills Coach Steve Serdachny: Anton has had incredible development. He’s made incredible strides in his skating and his quickness, he has so many great intangible qualities and a fantastic individual. Foot speed, mobility, efficiency have been a part of his program and something he’s been working on. This guy is a dedicated learner and working hard to become an Edmonton Oiler.
Stu MacGregor at summer camp: “His effort is so consistent, every shift. The best way to put it is he works smart. He’s really intelligent, good on faceoffs. That really stood out for us. His skating may have held him back from being a first-round pick, but it’s improved.”
Lander spent 56 games in the NHL during the 2011-12 season, scoring only 2 goals and 4 assists. When the team finally sent him down to the AHL, he scored well enough (14, 1-4-5) to be "in the range" with previous expectations.
The 2012-13 season has been a confusing one for following prospects, because the jobs were mostly gone due to NHL kids when the fall arrived and it pushed everyone down the depth chart. So, Lander's early AHL performance this season (27, 2-4-6 through New Year's) was very poor for a second round pick in the AHL--even one with a defensive reputation as strong as Lander's.
Since the New Year, Lander has improved his performance (18, 6-7-13) and is one of several Barons who are recovering their season now that TOI is comparable to previous seasons.
GETTING THE CALL
The callup to the Oilers may be short lived--the deadline is this Wednesday and the club may bring in help, plus there's Eric Belanger available when healthy and Ryan Smyth has shown a willingness to play out of position.
Still, this should be viewed as a positive sign. Anton Lander once had a solid resume, even offensively, as a third line center of some promise. The decision to keep him in the NHL last season and the extreme limitations in his icetime/linemates/opportunity earlier this season perhaps clouded the issue of how good he'll be as an NHL player.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
We've talked in recent days about allowing 5 years after a draft to properly assess these young men, and I think the wisdom of that rule is shown here. We should not expect many 6 point performanes from Anton Lander at any level, but the numbers suggest just as strongly that the early portion of this season had more to do with opportunity than performance.
It's a good day for Anton Lander, following a very good night for Anton Lander. He is now, after a weird season in OKC, on track with reasonable.