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.

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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.

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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.


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.



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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.

    • Lowetide

      It could be, but Lander’s only real role on the team is 4line C and PK duty. So, that’s basically Belanger’s job.

      I also don’t think the Oilers trade him, they like Lander plenty based on all we read.

      • Lowetide

        Belanger- i hope he gets well soon so we can move him.
        Honestly other than faceoffs, i see no value to anybody for him.
        He was a major disappointment.

        LT- What would you think in acquiring Torres once again ?
        I heard rumors he is available, Raffi just brings something
        and can pop the odd goal. Granted he has had to change his game
        he makes you look over your shoulder. Always Liked him obviously.

        • Lowetide

          Also – Bieksa pays the price last night if Torres is in the lineup
          or someone of similar ilk. You have to pick your spots
          but once the win was a sure thing, a Sedin should have paid
          the price IMO. How does Bieksa answer to that when one of the girls
          ends up wounded ?

          • Fantheoilman

            To be honest if the league wants to clean itself up the Bieksa should be called on his actions or suspended. Or call up hordi and tell him if he gets a lifetime suspension on Bieksa he can have a bag of cash.

    • I don’t care what it takes. But for the love of all that’s holy DON’T put Jones with Gagner and Hemsky. As it is, those two are an awkward fit – Yakupov seems to work far better with PRV and Gagner.

  • Lowetide

    If he is up here, then he should play. I understand that we need a 4 line C but I am not a fan of jerking these prospects around. After his 6 point night, I was kind of looking forward to him continuing to gain confidence in the AHL.

    If we assume that Lander takes Smyth’s spot on the 4th line, I wonder who comes out. Petrell maybe? It seems almost unfair to change the lineup after last night.

    P.S. Hartikainen’s goal was sick.

  • Lowetide

    Good for Lander! I read those stats last night and was loving it. Nice to see him up again.

    I wonder if he draws in right away. I also wonder if Belanger gets traded here soon. I know you can’t deal an injured player, but maybe he comes off the IR and gets moved.

    The roster has to give soon, IMO. And, to tell you the truth (becuase I usually lie! I kid) if they sent Belanger down I wouldn’t be mad. Though, I would agree with anyone that suggests getting an asset back would be far more beneficial, depth aside.

    Oh, the drama!!! lol Feels damn good to be an Oiler fan today. Damn good!

  • Muji

    I like Lander.

    But he doesn’t bring enough offense with him.
    He’s basically an Eric Belanger who is worst at faceoffs and more susceptible to defensive brainfarts. Granted, he’s younger (i.e. cheaper and healthier) than Belanger.

    Can Lander improve? That’s the big question.
    His numbers in the AHL are not encouraging (minus last night’s performance).

    • Bonvie

      Don’t forget he’s still a kid learning, I think long term he will have more than enough skill to become a good 3rd line centre.

      You also have to look at this season in the AHL and adjust numbers to reflect his role on the team that had Nuge and Arcobello ahead of him.

  • Muji

    Well timed in the sense that this is a reward to Lander having such a great game. But long overdue from an Oiler 23 man roster perspective. Remember that BIG game against San Jose. Oilers had two legit centres along with Ryan Smyth and whomever wanted to take the faceoff like it’s a shinny game. Having Lander gives Ralph some options, especially is one of the centres can’t go.

    Also means Belanger won’t be back any time soon.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I see some parallels between Pajaarvi and Lander. Some Swedish players seem to be perimeter players when they arrive in the NHL/AHL. If they play junior in N.A. they seem to be prepared to play in the so-called hard areas.

    After Pajaarvi got messed up by Renney’s seeming indecisiveness last year he appears to have really turned a corner.

    I think Lander may have arrived at that point of understanding of what it is that eventually will take him to be that fulltime Oiler he needs to be.

    • Bonvie

      I don’t think you can blame anybody for PRV lack of success last year. his success this year has come in his willingness to go to the traffic areas and to use his size and speed, it has nothing to do with any coach playing him on the wrong line or not deploying him properly.

      • bumblebpete

        No Way!

        Renney played games with PRV but Ralph is just more honest and tells players how it is. All our young players are developing better under Krueger than they were under Renney.IMHO

  • Fantheoilman

    For those of you wanting everyone traded I can only say patience-patience…it appears to have helped Pajaarvi in his development. I wonder if some of you trade-happy folks are even Oiler fans.

  • Bonvie

    Belanger is so vanilla it kills me. He brings nothing to the table except the odd face-off win. He is an offensive black hole with not an agressive bone in his body. Hopefully this is a prelude to a Belanger trade.

  • Bonvie

    Now that I’ve seen the Highlights..

    Had that Hartikainen goal been in the NHL chances are it would be a goal of the year candidate..

    Big buy, strong on the boards and in front of the Net..gritty, don’t know if he can fight..but he’s definitely not your normal Soda Pop Machine because he’s got the Hands of an Ales Hemmer..

    I think he still needs to fill out a bit more, add another 12 lbs to that frame..a little more explosiveness to his stride, and a little more vinegar to his temperament and he’s our Milan Lucic..but he needs to learn to fight to strike fear into the opposition..
    Get him into some Amature boxing matches or something (like Lucic did)..or MMA training or something.. (anyone seen Raffi Torres fight? He’s a machine, doesn’t do it often though)..

  • Bonvie

    On his worst night Lander is 10 times the player Belenger is on his best night……send this guy to the light already!

    Time to have him here permanently, and move Smyth back to his natural position.

  • bumblebpete

    Actually I have always believed Lander would find his way onto the roster somehow, and I still believe that.

    I love his ability to take opponents off of their games and get under their skins and he really covers a lot of ice when he is out there he manages his sphere of influence better than 75% of our current roster, which is why he will fit Yakupov to a T man.

    Opponents hate that he is constntly in their wheelhouses because he actually has above average offensive instincts and always hits them in the scoring lanes and interferes with them in hotspots consistantly, he leapfrogs from key point to key point constantly aiming to disrupt the offensive flow of the opponent, a very active type of defensive mindedness, perfect for the NHL. We might be in trouble if he starts to light it up at the NHL level pointswise the competition is getting really tough here in Edmonton.Now that we have Brown that gritty agitating ability is magnified even more.

    Everything about Antons game lends itself to be a natural dynamic fit with Nail Yakpovs perspective and vision.Landers ability to cover a lot of ice defensively and his tendancy to be all over the ice in a seemingly erratic but very effective manner is IDENTICAL to how Nail sees the ice, this will be a natural chemistry situation mark my words. if they ever played together yakupov-lander-Hemsky might be something special because of how they all see the game on the ice at the same speed.

    I hope we get to see some of Anton before the year is over, I somehow think that once he practices with Nail in scrimmages the coaches will see the stylistic match immediatly and recognise how well they will work together.

    I think that entire Nordic line drank the same Purple Kool-Aid because they are all coming on hard and fast and seem to have learned how to not be denied. They have become able to adjust their games in a very immediate accurate and responsive manner. Its got to be Nelson, he is our secret weapon.