Anton Lander has made it impossible for the Edmonton Oilers not to recall him

Jonathan Willis
February 15 2014 10:38PM


The fate of prospect Anton Lander is one of the decisions the Edmonton Oilers will need to make soon. The 22-year-old centre, drafted 40th overall by the team back in 2009, is in his final year of waiver exemption. More than that, he’s laying waste to the American Hockey League.

Lander scored two goals and added an assist in Oklahoma City’s 5-4 loss to Lake Erie on Saturday. It extends his personal scoring streak to eight games and continues an exceptional run of play since his demotion at the start of January. Since returning to the Barons, Lander has scored 7 goals and added 16 helpers for 23 points in 16 games.


Even more impressively, Lander has accomplished that with a rotating cast of wingers that hasn’t included Linus Omark, who was Oklahoma’s primary offensive weapon early in the year before a trade to the Buffalo Sabres. Injuries have made it difficult for him to settle in with regular help – against Lake Erie he played on the top line with ECHL call-up Austin Fyten and San Antonio refugee Jack Combs – but he has kept scoring regardless.

Lander’s speed isn’t especially good for the NHL, and he isn’t overly big either, so there is at least some question about his ability to translate his skill set. But he has forced the Oilers hand. His defensive game, his intelligence on the ice, his tenacity in the corners and a constantly improving offensive game predicated on puck possession all make him extremely attractive as a prospect.

The Oilers are almost certain to move veterans out of town at the NHL trade deadline, and that will open a spot (or possibly more than one) for a minor-league call up. Lander should get the call, and more than that he should get an honest opportunity in a top nine role – Edmonton simply can’t afford not to find out if he’s for real.  

In Brief

Hunt, Brad

- Lander isn’t the only member of the Barons on a roll right now. Roman Horak is currently on a six game point streak (6G – 5A – 11PTS) and playing his best hockey this year, while Brad Hunt had four points against Lake Erie and has picked up at least one point in seven of his last eight games (2G – 9A – 11PTS). Asked about his big game, Hunt laughed and said it was all a fluke. “The apples are just falling off the tree,” he said.

- Hunt was also full of praise for his regular partner on the evening, Brandon Davidson, and said he’s just improved since Christmas. Davidson, who had two points and a minus-14 rating though 27 games at the new year, has four assists and a plus-eight rating in 17 games in 2014. He was a rock on Saturday, not only providing strong defence but delivering a (clean) bone rattling hit that resulted in a scrum in the defensive zone.


- Richard Bachman got the start in back-to-back nights and has played in 16 of 17 Barons games since the start of January. That may not sound too crazy, but it’s a stretch that has included three sets of back-to-back games and two stretches of three games in three nights. Bachman keeps delivering strong play, and in the one game he sat the Barons were destroyed by a 9-3 score in Charlotte.

- Speaking of that Charlotte game, Barons head coach Todd Nelson has alluded to it several times as a turning point for the team, an awful outing but one that helped knit the group together. The Barons had won six consecutive games since that loss prior to their shootout defeat on Saturday. 

Recently by Jonathan Willis

Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
#51 Acumen
February 17 2014, 01:07PM
Trash it!

Okay, I just want to take a second to point out how a conversation with DSF progresses.


DSF: Good grief. Lander is "laying waste to the AHL"?

JW: Since his return from the NHL, Lander has 23 points in 16 games. He has done this despite playing in a power-vs.-power role largely with undistinguished AHL players. He has done this while being the team's best defensive forward.

DSF: Tyler Toffoli who was drafted 47th overall in the 2010 draft (one year after Lander) notched another 2 points in the AHL today.

22 points in 17 AHL games and 5 goals 7 points in his last 3 games.

Lander isn't "laying waste to the AHL," Toffoli is.


In summary, 23 points in 16 games is nothing special, but 22 points in 17 games is ACTUALLY laying waste to the AHL.

Just stop responding to him. Please.

#52 Nina Russo
February 18 2014, 01:49PM
Trash it!

I would love to see Lander on a third line centre role with semi-capable wingers, and see Belanger (I mean Gordon, obviously) playing fourth-line minutes (No offense to Smyth).

If the team is ever going to leave the darkages it will need to develop more than one or two scoring lines. Enough of this stupidity trying to force physical players out of their element.


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