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.


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)

  • oilerjed

    Some guys are just not going to make it, but its good to remember that there are always guys that don’t get it until their mid-late 20s. Sorry Anton, if that is you I cant see it being here.

    On a brighter note this headline made me smile.

    “Flames looking to avoid ‘losing culture'” After 7 losses in a row it is safe to say that reality is sinking in down south. Misery is always better shared.

  • S cottV

    If Omark was worth only a 6th rounder, what makes you think Anton is worth anything more??
    My bet is he’ll be part of a package at the trade deadline, or he’ll be back in Europe next season.

    I’m sure KLoooooowe is allready telling MacT to think like that

    • John Chambers

      Yeah like why bother drafting and developing Rajala, Omark, Hartikainen, and Lander if we’re just going to jettison them for nickels at the point where they might contribute.

      Letting go of Omark I get, but Harti has size while Lander has defensive acumen and character.

      Depth is a good thing, right?

      • Problem is we didn’t develop them, hence why they’re not in the NHL, aside from Omark, who has one assist in 6 games for the 30th place team. Harti is playing well in Russia I hear but he’s still our property.

      • BLAKPOO

        Agreed about depth being a good thing.

        However, I don’t think “jettison” is the right word to use when speaking of Rajala or Hartikainen. Rajala knew he wouldn’t fit, so requested a trip home. His choice, not the club’s. We still own Harti’s rights, he just wanted more money and ice-time in the KHL. Doesn’t mean he’s never coming back.

        Omark, well, is Omark. Last time I checked, getting a 6th round pick for a smallish, mid-20’s European with low physicality, big ego and inability to score in the NHL was a pretty good deal.

        Lander would be a great piece for us if he could actually score. His defensive ability might be a good fit on a line with Ebs, Gags or Yak.. he’d also have a shot at producing more points there. He needs to do something though, his time and chances to impress are running out.

      • Lowetide

        We draft players like that because they showed some talent/potential at that time. Since then, some have not developed at the level hoped for. That’s just the way it goes. What we as fans (and Oiler management) have to do is stop over-valuing our ‘assets’, or worse, hanging onto assets that won’t get better and stop the development of other players. Anton may have been improperly developed, but I don’t believe he’s worth keeping, nor do I believe he’ll ever be better than a 4C.

  • S cottV

    Well like you I hope he gets that chance . Still feel his 1st year was wasted and Mgr let it happen. Lander will play in the NHL but perhaps with another team .I’m surprised they haven’t tried him on the wing say with Gordon but that may come at trade deadline . For me Lander could be your Pisani LT .

  • John Chambers

    I dunno – I was looking at stats for players like Frans Nielsen and Ville Leino. Both guys came to North America, learned the game in their early 20’s, became productive AHL players, but it took a couple of years for the offense to translate at the NHL level.

    I mean what would Lander cost aside from a roster spot and about 750k on a one-way contract. I’m not saying we hand him the 2nd line C job, but I think a 4th line of Smyth-Arco-Lander is as good as any that we could possibly field – and extremely economical to boot.

  • camdog

    Lander’s foot speed limits his overall abilites. If he could get another gear, he could be an effective NHL player. If he doesn’t gain that gear, he will never play in the NHL.

  • reaperfunkss


    Agree with your assessment.

    I don’t see the rush to trade him, though, unless it’s an element that makes some larger deal move forward.

    If he isn’t taking up a needed development spot in OKC, why not let him play there and see where you are another year down the road? The Detroit “ripen on the vine” approach.

    If he turns into something, great; if not, not much value lost anyway. He can always become an AHL trade or free agent later.

    A little more size, strength and sandpaper, plus a few more points are all that’s missing here.

  • Czar

    “last night Ryan Smyth played 4line C with Luke Gazdic and Ryan Jones and that line kicked some ass.”

    Who saw this coming?? One of several positives from last nights game!

    Too early to flush Lander and as Mr.Chambers mentioned,”Depth is a good thing, right?”

    We haven’t had any depth for a long time but I’ve heard it’s important for winning teams.

      • Czar

        He’s a point a game player in the AHL and has some defensive smarts as well so he’s worth the risk for another contact in my opinion. We have no depth at all so the one guy who shows some signs of improvement should be flushed now? Don’t see the risk when you look at our depth chart, whether he plays in the minors or not.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Typical fan:
    Man that detroit model is fantastic. How smart of them to let players develop until the player is in their mid-20s and then bring them up when they can hit the ground running.

    5 minutes later. Hey that 21 year old prospect isn’t scoring enough in the NHL. What a bum. Flush him.

  • His window of opportunity is shrinking. I’d say call him up after the trade deadline purging of veterans and give him the rest of the season with the big club. If he plays well, then he can come into camp and compete for a spot next season. If he doesn’t seize the day, then he’s not in the NHL plans for next season.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    What would Detroit do?

    Realize a defensive forward starting to light it up offensively in the 3rd best league in the world at 21 is going to translate into a useful NHL career. Make that happen.

    What will Edmonton do?

    Flush a useful player early. Rush another young player ahead of schedule. Sour on him too. Repeat. Maybe sign another Will Acton in the meantime. That seems to have helped.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I wouldn’t flush him for a pick, the Oilers need to be done with these type of trades. But if MacT can trade him as part of a package for something better Do it.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Sure. That’s a reasonable option. If a team asks for him as a sweetener, fine. That’s the other reason you have prospects: to cash them in on NHL players.

        But, the Oiler way isn’t to turn prospects into NHL players by way of development or trade.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          I guess that’s exactly the point. Once management finally switches from “trading players for futures” to “trade futures for players” and the patience needed to do it…. We might have an NHL team again.

          After losing for so long. The Smid trade. And the value this losing organization puts on teenagers. I’m just not so sure they have the ability to get it out of reverse and find a forward gear to do this.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    LT, I know MacT said in the summer that even the 4th line needs to be able to contribute. And I realize it hasn’t happened much this year but I don’t think the horses are there for it.

    But my question is, what are the chances of Lander become a mainstay on a 4th line like Chicago runs in regards to tough DZ starts? Now, they have size on that line as well, but their defensive play and tough DZ starts allows the top lines to have 50%+ OZ starts. Do you think he would be able to eventually centre a line like that?

    • Lowetide

      I think he might be capable of that role down the line, but the Oilers will need to be patient. He’ll be waiver eligible soon, and there’s a risk some other team will take him.

      • BLAKPOO

        Not sure trying to develop Lander as a 4th line centre is a great idea. He’s shown he has a touch around the net in OKC, maybe some time at the 2C position with some skilled wingers would elevate his game?

        A centre able to play a full 200 feet might be just what Eberle and Gags/Yak need to allow the offense to open up a bit.

      • Spydyr

        Who was the last Oiler lost to waivers? Gilbert Brule Phoenix Coyotes January 10, 2012.Not many other teams want a perennial lotto pick teams weakest players.

        It might be time to give the “there’s a risk some other team will take him” a rest.

        Even if you lost him to waivers there will be a same caliber player available on waivers a week later.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Sign him cheap for 2 more years. (500k to 900k)

    4th line Centre’s are a dime a dozen. Unless your Edmonton then you pay 2 to 6 million.( Belanger/Gordon/ Horcoff/…)

    I haven’t seen enough to write this kid off. I also have not seen enough to hand him the keys to the 4th line center position.)

  • Czar

    I’d bet on Lander being resigned.

    I’ve definitely liked what I’ve seen so far. Stats aren’t there in the show, but he brings an honest hard working effort every night.

    I was a little disappointed with his performance at training camp.


    A character guy. 200 foot game. Not scared to get his nose dirty. Things that I appreciate from a hockey player.

    I also don’t think the org would’ve named him captain of the farm if they didn’t have him in their plans. JMO

    After saying all that, it’s true that Lander needs to grab the bull by the horns… so to speak.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Great game last night! Felt good to be in a drunken stupor and not feel like I just got the sh*t kicked out of me.

    Atta be, boys! Pucking wicked!

    Lots of names and plays stand out but I would like to highlight a different kind of moment.

    Gazdic. TSN had a shot of him on the bench beside RNH. Nuge leans down either in discomfort or to address an equipment issue, I think the latter, and Gazdic puts his arm around him and asks, I presume, if he’s ok.

    He gives a sh*t. Plays like he does too. Plus, he knows his role: protect the herd. Solid.

    He’s on my team. Any day of the week.

    • Sal-Sational

      Love Gadzic the guy plays with a lot of heart, something we seriously lack. He looks so happy to be here. Best waiver pickup the Oilers have had in a very long time. We do need somebody to ride shotgun with him. How is Harti doing? He had some potential.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    to me anyway, he seems just a step too slow for the NHL game and therefore may not be able to ever score effectively at the NHL level. if we didn’t keep him for next year, it wouldn’t bother me. we got burned pretty good with the 2009 draft with our first 2 picks, didn’t we? Paajarvi and lander….thank God we got Perron for Magnus out of that draft at least!

  • Johnnydapunk

    He is 22 and has something that the Oil needs and will need in the future, that’s some defensive ability for a forward. I don’t see why you would want to give up on a player like that. Give him another season or two in the AHL on a two way deal, and I’m sure he can develop into perhaps a Boyd Gordon type of player who is great on the 3rd 4th line. Perhaps a bit of strength training could be done to add a bit of weight but that I’m not terribly sure on.

    I think there are other players who are toiling around the AHL and ECHL that the Oil should be working to cut loose as they are still tight with contracts who I would be shocked if they made the Oil or the NHL in the future. Lander still has potential and again, he is only 22.

    Lander is worth a longer look and resigning unless the Oil can package him with someone else to get some proper number one pairing Defencemen as the UFA market is pretty dire and shoring up the D should be a priority right now.

  • reaperfunkss

    Anton Lander has not been given a fair chance to play on the second line , in the minors he is on the top line and getting the minutes while here there is no opportunity . Most European players that come to Edmonton do very well elsewhere since management seems to have a problem creating equal opportunity. Put Eberle ,Landon , Perron on a line for three games . He will score and assist where he plays best , he is an offensive forward made into a defensive one to suit the organization . Draft the players to play the position you draft them for . we do it for Yakapov.

  • reaperfunkss

    Mact: Pfff a 21 year old not scoring like Taylor Hall in the NHL but can play D, worth nothing more than a conditional 7th, atleast we get rid of a contract spot for Daryl Katz’s son(will say he has great size)

    Detroit: How does a 21 year old play better than the whole Oiler’s top 6 and scoring a point per game at the 3rd best league get treated like that? Than they turn him Horcoff(well the old one who scored 50 points in a season) and than in a game against the Oil get him to score a triple hat trick toped by 76 hits, 7 fights won, and a big laugh at management.

  • Sal-Sational

    once we clean up with our Older slower players like Smyth, Jones, Gags at the trade deadline we should bring up these kids maybe play them as a line Hamilton – Lander – Pitlick …man it must suck being a Captian for the OKC barons. (i think theyve traded away every single captain)