Point-per-game Anton

Anton Lander fired six shots in a game against the Toronto Marlies on Thursday, scoring one goal and adding two assists, as well as ringing a shot off the crossbar. The outburst gives him 28 points in 28 games, getting him back to the point-per-game level in the AHL.

The Coach’s View

After the game, Todd Nelson was asked about Lander’s game and unsurprisingly saw good things:

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He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and he’s found his offensive touch… I like his game right now. He’s playing both ends of the ice very well, he’s quarterbacking the power play and he’s the first unit to go on the PK. I’m very happy with his play and I hope that continues.

Nelson also confirmed that he was trying for a power-vs.-power matchup with the Lander line; there was a lot of special teams play in a chippy game so that wasn’t a hard match but “for the most part” they saw the best opponents.

The Numbers

The score (5-3 in Oklahoma’s favour) didn’t reflect the Barons’ dominance against Toronto. The shots were 42-22 for Oklahoma and Nelson described it as “the most complete game” the Barons had played all year.

With Anton Lander on the ice things were especially tilted. At even-strength, the Barons fired 18 unblocked shots to the opposition’s four. Even without the goal and the two helpers and the six shots and his plus-three rating, it would have been an excellent night. Even if he wasn’t assigned to shutting down the Marlies’ top line it would have been an excellent night. He played extremely well.

The Player’s View

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Of course, just because the coach thought Lander played well and the numbers thought he played well and I thought he played well doesn’t mean everyone agrees with that sentiment. When Lander was asked about his line’s performance against Toronto he didn’t exactly beam.

“I thought we played okay,” he said, “but I talked to [Ryan Hamilton] too and we felt like we had more to give to the team."

If he isn’t happy with a three-point night where his line dominated the play, what exactly is Lander’s goal?

“My goal is to win the games. That’s what it‘s all about. We have more to give. We were in the d-zone a lot tonight and we should have stopped that earlier and played more offensively.”

He was asked if it was a situation where as team captain his happiness had little to do with his personal game and was instead dependent on the team being everything he thought it could be. He did more than agree; he seemed surprised that any other viewpoint was possible:

It’s not just me, it’s everyone. This is a team game, it’s a team sport. If you play good and the team doesn’t play good, you don’t want to be at the rink. It’s been tough; we want to be in the playoffs and we have a long way to go. It has to start somewhere; hopefully we can remember this game where we did good and bring it on the road.

Lander’s been excellent all season, and he was particularly good against Toronto. But with the Barons six points out of a playoff spot, good luck getting him to admit it.

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Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • toprightcorner

    I like the leadership Lander brings but I just don’t see him as a fit with the Oilers current roster, too much of the same.

    I am happy for him that he is playing well and hope his improved value enables MacT to trade him to a team where he can play on an NHL roster.

    The Oilers just don’t need a young, small centre with a decent 2 way game right now. If we add a depth centre it needs to be another veteran that competes and has some grit.

  • I wonder… Arcobello seemed to fit in just fine in the 2C spot(better then Gagner if you ask me). And I think a big part of that is because he was given quality linemates. Now Lander has not always done so well in his callups. But I don’t feel like he’s been put in the best opportunity to succeed. Maybe he hasn’t earned the right at this point? But the way Gagner has played I would be curious to see how he would perform in that 2C spot. He would probably be more ideally suited for the 3C spot but Gordon isnt going anywhere(i hope).

    • Lynas1

      I would agree completely. He played with people like Ben eager, lennart petrell, Darcy Hordichuk. Of course he’s going to come out looking poor for a second rounder. I’d love to see him between Perron and Yakupov for an extended period. He’s a far better 2-way player than Gagner. Oilers need more 2-way than straight up offense. Gagner for me Is the duplication, not Lander.

  • Zarny

    I’ve been watching him gather his offensive game in OKC for a while. But when he was called up, something seemed to be missing.

    What is your take, JW? Is it a foot speed issue? Is it it a function of playing with fourth liners on his call-ups? Did the Oilers impede his development by not sending him down in his rookie season? Do you see enough progress in his game for him to take the next step?

    I’ve always liked his attitude. Do you see him being a fit on the Oiler roster?

      • He seems fit for a third line, PK, and tough zone starts, kind of player who can move up the line if injuries occur but right now Gordon has that Job. Arco has been bringing that physical energy game that Eakins seems to want on his fourth line, and Smytty has held his own as the 4C right now. Not saying it’s impossible, but Lander has to demonstrate that he is definitely more valuable than two of Arco, Gordon, and Smytty. I dont see him ousting Gordon at all, that guy is elite when it comes to the shutdown game…

        If Smytty doesnt retire this year and Arco gets on another hot streak, Lander will be in real tough to crack the line up.

  • bwar

    We are coming to the end of his ELC and we, and the rest of the league don’t know if he is good enough to keep or if he is any value in a trade.

    We need to get him back into the NHL to boost his value.

    Play Lander as your 2C for the next 15 games, Play Gagner as your 3RW for the next 15 game.

    Hopefully this is the last year we need to experient in the last part of the season.

  • bazmagoo

    Not all players develop at the same rate, would be great to see Anton continue on this trajectory. You can never have too many options down the middle. He brings a leadership dimension that is a great quality.

  • Retsinnab5

    With Landers natural leadership qualities and his ability to defend, I wonder what him and Yak would look like on a line together. Toss is the fact they are both from another country.

  • 719

    Would we be able to give this guy a year or so to figure out the NHL as a 2c?

    I do not know if the fan base has the patience for that. I personally would be happy to give this guy time to acclimate to the NHL. I see the progress he has made, and his team first attitude would be a nice change of pace from some of the current group.

    • I’m not convinced he has the offence at the NHL level to play top-six minutes regularly. He’s shown a lot more scoring than I thought he had, but I still think he’s more of a top-nine guy than a top-six guy at the NHL level.

      • 719

        This guys game is similar to Henrique’s (at least it seems on the surface) and Henrique has been doing an adequate job as a 2c.

        If a better option comes along I am all for it.

  • I would not be surprised if EDM were to recall Lander pretty quickly, and take a look at him in a few different situations.

    Lander has to clear waivers in the fall, so I would imagine EDM would like to have as much new information on his as possible before having to decide on him in the fall. Maybe they’ll see enough, and like him enough, to give him a one way deal at the league min?

  • I think that once the Olympic break is over, there could be all sorts of call ups to see what some of those guys can do. Hopefully they’ll be given the appropriate line-mates to succeed. I’d like to see Anton Lander in a 2c role for a while and see what happens. Maybe also the wing like JW suggests too.

    • The vast majority of which came in his first season in North America because Gilbert Brule couldn’t hold down a fourth line spot.

      Lander got rushed into the NHL too early, and his development suffered because of it. He’s 22 now, and ready for an extended audition. He wasn’t two years ago.

    • SuntanOil

      It seems that all the first OV’s are skewing our view of what constitutes an acceptable age to break into the NHL. When evaluating a player like this it’s important to clarify that he hasn’t become a useful NHLer YET. The kid is only 22, has a few more years to grow as a player, and apparently a strong enough mental make-up to overcome being mishandled in his first year in North America.

      As for the mentality displayed in this comment – Boyd Gordon scored 6 points in 68 games in his first three seasons in pro hockey. I guess the Capitals should have dumped him. Maybe he could have caught on in the KHL.

      Kyle Brodziak became a point a game player in the AHL before becoming a useful player for the Oilers. This happened after his fourth year in pro.He bacame a point-a-game player only in his third year of pro.

      In other words, dump this player at your own peril.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I know everyone likes to get excited over pieces like this, but the kid has gotten numerous opportunities and has shown absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. Invisible.

    Lander is a year behind in his development due to incompetent handling of him by the Oilers organization. My blood still boils thinking of him and MPS looking completely lost on the Oilers roster while they could have been learning the game in OKC. It was perplexing. Saint Kreuger has to own partial responsibility for that.

  • Lynas1

    You know who deserves a shot? Fedun. Excellent AHL player. 2 goals in four NHL games and they demote him to the farm and leave him there.

    Lander’s play may earn him yet another look, but come on.

  • jonrmcleod

    Anton Lander 6’0″ 195lb U23 yr old fwd 1 ppg in AHL.

    Since the lockout there have been a collection of smaller forwards less than 6′ and 190lb in the range.
    Your krejci, Sobotka, C. Giroux, Desharnais, Enis, Conacher, Nyquist, Kadri.

    But 6’0″ and 195lb+ u23 1ppg AHL since lockout:
    Stafford; Brouwer; Parenteau; E. fehr; C. Macarthur; B. Ryan, Anisimov, Santorelli, Tlusty; L. Couture; D. jeferey; Pacioretty; Bonino; Zibanejad; Etam; Jurco; Lander

    Hey maybe lander is in the 8% of U23 1 ppg forwards not to make it!

  • jonrmcleod

    JW: What do you think of an Oilers’ fourth line featuring Lander and Pitlick next season? The Oilers seem to be committed to Gazdic, so it would be Gazdic-Lander-Pitlick.

  • S cottV

    I would like to see Hendricks play in the middle in 4C, to see how that looks.

    Seems like the kind of guy who would be pretty good in his own end, to help out the D Corps in low support.

    That would give us RNH, Gagner, Gordon and Hendricks in the middle.

    The obvious weakness would be Gagner in 2C.

    If there was some way to fill 2C with a Backes-like, Benn-like – player, the Oilers would be reasonably set down the middle.

    I don’t see Lander or Arco having enough presence in the middle to take things to the next level. They can play all day long vs the mid to bottom level teams, but not against the teams we need to surpass for a playoff spot.

  • There really are people saying a 1ppg AHL fwd at 22 and .44 ppg @ 21 is useless.

    That is embarrasing!

    Chicago Black hawks:

    player – Age ahl – ppg AHL – age full season NHL

    Sharp – 23 – .66 – 24
    Kruger – 22 – .65 – 23
    Bickell – 23 – .48 – 24
    Piri – 22 – .81 – ???
    Brouwer – 22 – .72 – 24
    Bolland 21 – .61 – 22
    Shaw – 21 – .56 – 22
    Versteeg 21 – .80 – 22

    Suntanoil is bang on!


    Skewed and No clue!

  • 719

    Honestly, the biggest worry I have about Lander is the “Kirk Maltby Factor.”

    OK, before you freak out, I’m not saying that Lander’s as good as Maltby was when the Oilers traded him in the early 1990s and I’m not saying that Lander will ever be as good as Maltby became when he got to Detroit.

    But … even though Lander’s shown next-to-nothing at the NHL level, I’m still worried that if he gets traded to the “right” team and put in the “right” situation (see: Red Wings, Detroit), that he might flourish. His AHL numbers and reputation (good leader, coachable, etc.) suggest there’s a good pro in there somewhere.

    In December, I went to an Oilers game at Rexall and sat about nine rows up. From that vantage point, you get to see the “little” stuff that goes on in a game. And hear them.

    Lander was in that game and one thing I took away from watching him was how much he directed traffic out there – pointing at teammates to cover other players, yelling, talking, etc. I was impressed – he was one of the few Oilers players who seemed to do any consistent communicating with his teammates on-ice.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is this: Can we be patient with him a bit longer? I’m not sure how long a “bit longer” is, mind you. Keep him in the AHL for the rest of this season and, probably, a big part of next year? Should we take a little more time?

    I look at a player like Lander and I see the Detroit Red Wings swooping in, putting him a fourth-line penalty-killing role with two wily veterans and Lander taking off.

    Yes – I know – Detroit probably hasn’t called yet. But it seems like he might be a candidate to test some patience with. In baseball, players are manufactured in the minors, sometimes for four or five years. I think that’s the approach that should be taken with Lander. What have the Oilers got to lose?

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      IF Lander ever becomes an NHL regular, I see him comparable more to the Shaun Van Allen path more so than Maltby.

      Both had footspeed issues. Although Lander has not scored at the dominant pace Van Allen did in the AHL. Van Allen finally found a niche in the NHL as a defensive forward on the third line at age 26 after several years shooting out the lights in the A.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Did you watch any of his dozen games in the NHL so far this year? Did that look like a player ready to make the jump and contribute?

      Being the worlds biggest fan and really really wanting it- is not a good enough reason.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Lander has had several opportunities with the Oilers, but always gets sent back to OKC. There is a reason for this, I’m sure. What would be nice would be to see Fedun and Pitlick up for a decent amount of games, more than 3-4 and see what they can do. Some players are great AHL players, but not so good at the NHL level. They still make more $$$ than I’d ever make and every team needs it’s farm team. Maybe Lander will pan out, like Paajarvi, somewhere else. My gut feeling is try Fedun and Pitlick, we have lost this season, lost a lot of pride – there’s really not much else to lose by giving them both a chance.

  • If Lander is smart he’ll set up half a dozen staged fights before the season is over in OKC. Then eat burgers and pasta all summer long and hit the ‘roids. That’ll pretty much guarantee him a spot on next year’s Oilers roster with a big fat raise.