January 11 2014 09:21AM
Anton Lander can't get traction as an NHL player because he can't help offensively. There are all kinds of signs that he can play well away from the puck, but even a defensive expert at center has to put the puck in the net once in awhile. The Edmonton Oilers have a dilemma: commit to Lander next season, or insert another option. Does Lander have a chance?
Anton Lander is being passed as we speak by one of the Oilers 2010 2nd rd selections (Martin Marincin). The club is looking to their minor league system to plug holes and it looks to me as though Lander's chances are slipping away.
- Craig MacTavish: We’ve got Curtis Hamilton who’s finally started to develop and take a turn. It looks like he’s going to be a player. He’s 215 pounds. He can get some zone time. Pitlick has started to develop. Marincin is here, he looks like he’s going to be a good player. He’s played well. Gernat has started to develop. So there are a number of guys. Klefbom, he’s developing. What we have to do now is we’ve got to get these competitive guys into our organization. I’m happy with the high end forwards. I believe that we very much can win with the talent level that we have. Now we have to develop the competitiveness.
Nothing in that passage on Lander. Anton Lander is a point-per-game man in the AHL but can't piss a drop in the NHL. I have in the past argued that he wasn't getting quality linemates (true), but last night Ryan Smyth played 4line C with Luke Gazdic and Ryan Jones and that line kicked some ass.
There's probably one more chance. At the deadline, Edmonton will be trading away some veterans, and that might include Ales Hemsky and (or) Sam Gagner. The Oilers may choose to give Lander one more look before his contract expires, but he's going to need to post some crooked numbers at even strength.
- 2001-12: 498 even-strength minutes, 5 EV points (0.60 even points/60minutes)
- 2012-13: 102 even-strength minutes, 0 EV points
- 2013-14: 98 even-strength minutes, 0 EV points
Baseball has a Mendoza line, a point at which a position player can't be a regular no matter how much he helps defensively. Hockey doesn't have an equivalent, but one suspects if the line in the sand existed, Lander would be well below it.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There are people in the world who believe minor league statistics have no predictive value for major league purposes. I strongly disagree, so when a 21-year-old defensive center like Anton Lander can post at a point-per-game in the world's best minor league, that has value.
However, there comes a point where the player must show something at the NHL level. Anton Lander will probably get another callup this season, and he has to take advantage of the opportunity. The clock is ticking on his NHL career.
(OKC Barons photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)