With the SEL season over for his TIMRA squad, savvy center Anton Lander has some decisions to make.
Anton Lander has already been asked the question. The Swedish media want to know if another season in TIMRA is possible for the young 2-way C. The latest quote (filtered through google translate) comes from Hockey Express:
- "It can be farmer’s league, the NHL or Timra. It is completely wide open. I must know what to feel and what is best for me and my development. There are many things that come into play."
I’ve been hoping the Oilers would sign Lander and bring him over for a late season look-see with OKC Barons. It would give GM Steve Tambellini and the rest of the Oilers braintrust an idea about how close Lander is to NHL duty. At this point, his SEL season–while solid–has enough questions for us to wonder about his readiness.
In his first 42 games, Lander was cruising (9-14-23 -4) but his final 7 games (2-1-3 -9) were part of a team free fall that saw Timra lose a playoff spot and come alarmingly close to relegation. From Lander’s point of view, there may be an urge to stay another year before leaving his SEL team for the big leagues.
The Oilers C depth chart at the pro level for 10-11 looks like this:
- Shawn Horcoff (Oilers)
- Sam Gagner (Oilers)
- Andrew Cogliano (Oilers)
- Colin Fraser (Oilers)
- Ryan O’Marra (Barons)
- Milan Kytnar (Barons)
- Chris Vande Velde (Barons)
This is not the 1927 Yankees, and there are a few wingers (Brule, Hall, Reddox) who may end up playing the middle next season). Bubbling under, outside the NHL but turning pro or coming over from Europe this fall, could be the following:
- Anton Lander: 2-way C with excellent speed. 49gp, 11-15-26 SEL
- Tyler Pitlick: Tambellini is high on him, saying here that “Pitlick’s a horse. I see him as a second- to third-line centre:" Turns 20 in November, suffered an ankle injury last week. Played wing in Medicine Hat but the organization sees him in the middle.
- Ryan Martindale: Skill center turns 20 in late October of this season and can turn pro. 60gp, 34-47-81 currently playing the middle in one of the OHL’s high octane scoring lines.
The Oilers have a lot of duplication at the NHL level and Lander’s skill set is unique in the group (save the veteran Horcoff) because of his impressive 2-way resume even at a young age.
Bob McKenzie on draft day: 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."
For the Edmonton Oilers, Anton Lander represents real hope for the future. Skilled with an idea about how to play without the puck. A few games in the AHL before the season runs out could benefit both player and organization in evaluating the future.