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


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.

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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

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.  

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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

– 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.


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– 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

  • DSF

    Good grief.

    Lander is “laying waste to the AHL”?

    He’s 27th in league scoring.

    His 16 goals rank him 33rd in the AHL.

    Colton Sceviour, who can’t crack the Dallas lineup has 29.

    Lander has already played 79 NHL games and has all of 7 points to his credit.

    With his ELC expiring at the end of the season, it’s too little too late.

    • Let me summarize for you:

      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.

      It’s hard to score 1.4 points per game without any help while playing incredibly responsible defensive hockey.

      • DSF

        Well, this is a list of the AHL scoring champions from the last 8 seasons:

        05/06 – Kirby Law – 80GP – 110PTS

        06/07 – Darren Hayder – 73GP – 122PTS

        07/08 – Jason Krog – 80GP -110PTS

        08/09 – Alexandre Giroux – 69GP – 97PTS

        09/10 – Keith Aucoin – 72GP – 106PTS

        10/11 – Corey Locke – 69GP – 86PTS

        11/12 – Chris Bourque – 73GP – 93PTS

        12/13 – Brandon Pirri – 76GP – 75P

        You’ll note than not one of those players is an NHL regular.

        I’d be all in favour of bringing Lander up to see, for the final time, if he can score in the NHL but 7 points in 79 games thus far is not a very encouraging sign.

        If Gagner gets moved that might be an opportunity but I’m not sure he deserves a chance ahead of Arcobello who has 18 points in 41 NHL games.

    • toprightcorner

      Out of the 26 players ahead of him in points, only 5 are scoring at a higher points per game rate than he is and only 9 of the guys with more goals than he has are scoring at the same or better goals per game rate than he is. How about looking at games played before comparing his points.

      I agree he has not shown a bit of offence in the NHL and if he can’t he shouldn’t stay, but there is nothing you can say that would support your idea that Lander is not having an excellent AHL season this year.

    • Hair bag

      The fact that Lander has played 79 NHL games and only 7pts is more a reflection of how he has been mismanaged. A majority of those games came three seasons ago when he was 20 and shouldnt even have been in the NHL. Now that he has had time to learn, mature, get stronger, etc, this should be a more accurate time to see what he could potentially be…..a team like Detroit would find a way to keep developing him in the minors for another season or two and overripen him but the Oilers cupboards have been so bear they put players in positions to be unsuccessful because they hope they might catch lightning in a bottle.

      • Hair bag

        I don’t know what Lander will be, but much like Arcobello was written off at the beginning of the season, I think we will find out that there is more of a player there than most give him credit for….

      • DSF

        Typically, young players like Lander are given a chance to work their way up the lineup.

        It’s not mismanagement.

        While I agree that Lander would likely have close to zero NHL games on his resume if he were drafted by a good team, I also doubt Detroit would gift him top 6 minutes based on his play in the AHL.

  • toprightcorner

    I hope Lander gets his recall but for his sake he needs to show at least some offense. If he doesn’t and is insistant on a 1-way deal next year he may find himself as part of a package heading out of town to fill more important holes.

    He has great character, leadership and competes hard, unfortunately that alone does not make you an NHL player. He may only have 20 games to prove himself so I wish him luck.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    Anton Lander is a very good hockey player.When Ales, Smitty and Jones depart he’s the next step in our evolution. If I were the GM I’d give Lander a 20 game sampler at the end of this season. Nothing to lose mega to gain?

      • toprightcorner

        That’s right smart guy, you want to look to see if you should resign a guy next year but need to see if his new found AHL offense can carry on in the NHL so your going to play him in a non offensive role for 7 min a night!!

        If they want to see what he can do, give him a chance in the top 9 so you can make an honest decision about what to do with him. Not like we need to win every last game down the stretch.

  • Randaman

    Oilers got rid of Paajarvi this year, they got rid of the Omark, and got rid of Hartikainen. Naturally, Lander should be the next one out on the “quartet” of Scandinavian buddies. Trade him for a real NHLer. Arco can’t do anything and neither can “Landie”.

  • I know it’s likely to happen but ditching Gagner, Hemsky and N Schultz for Lander, Arco and another warm body basically says F-You to the core guys on this squad. They’ve busted their nuts adapting to Eakins and his “systems” and started to win a few games to salvage what sanity they have left…and then this.



      The only nuts being busted will be Perron’s when he finds out Gagner has been replaced by a centre that can finish hits and carry possession past the offensive blue line.

    • 15w40

      Have any of those 3 been instrumental in the recent run of wins?

      A good portion of those wins have been on the backs of the goaltenders – not a consistent recipe for success.

      Hemsky nor N. Schultz are coming back so they might as well get some assets for them.

      I still can’t see a deal that works for Gagner due to his contract. I don’t see him going anywhere, unless its at the draft and with a suspect contract coming back the other way.

      The core should know its a business and those that aren’t tagged as part of the future will designated for assignment elsewhere.

      • Gagner – “Tape to tape” pass instrumental to a win. >

        Sorry but neither Arco nor Lander is capable of that type of play.

        Hey look. I can see a logical set of reasons for trading Gagner based on organizational need. You’re right saying that will most likely happen over the summer. But people beaking off saying Arco or Lander can step in and do what he does is elite level fanboy talk. And the guy is clearly playing at no more than 70%.

        I’ve said it before. Placing a value on Gagner based on his performance this year is a massive underestimation. Every GM in the league knows this. We’ll get gang raped if we try to deal him now at a time when we dearly need some key pieces (which nobody will give up going into the playoffs).

  • I wonder if there is a way to give him a look while minimizing the impact on the OKC playoff push. As good a year Lander is having, it might be best to leave the captain to get his team into the playoffs. Maybe, maybe not. Tough call.

  • bwar

    The thing about trading Gagner and Hemsky is that it only opens up one roster spot. Hemsky has been playing on the third line but really that third line spot should belong to Ryan Jones. He’s played very well this year on the third line and seemed to have decent chemistry with Hendricks and Gordon. So trading Gagner and Hemsky only opens the 2C slot and I would like to see Lander get a crack at proving he can fill that role and if not Arcobello filled in quite nicely at the start of the year and would be capable of filling the void for the duration of this season.

    This is all assuming we get absolutely no return for Gagner and Hemsky.

  • Muji

    I like Lander. I hope he gets another shot. He probably will, especially if Gagner and others are traded. I’m skeptical that he’ll be able to find his offensive game in the NHL, but am still hopeful.

    That said, it’s not “impossible” for the Oilers not to recall him. That’s a very sensational headline.

  • ToppsSmith

    I think Lander deserves a real shot at the NHL, He has done more than prove himself in the AHL, and lets face it, He never got a fair shot in the NHL due to playing on a 4th line with minimal minutes. DO people still think Wil Acton deserves that 4th line center like he was in at the start of the season over Lander? Give Lander someone to play with, and a few minutes and watch him stun the NHL. At this point of the season the only thing the Oilers have to lose is 1st overall pick if things work out. Also his game fits in with Eakins very well.

  • Guy Lafleur

    The 27, 28, 29, or 30th place team in the NHL’s best players NOT in the NHL are,

    Lander with 79 ineffective NHL games and small centerman

    Fedun, with less than 10 NHL games and a small Defenseman

    Pitlick with 3 games in the NHL and is injury prone


    We have 5 or 6 Journeyman vets to trade at the deadline.

    We are in deep trouble with out a BOLD move.

    • Hair bag

      To me,I think there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel,but the oilers need to add veterans not rookies.A couple quality veteran d-men,to add to Ference,J Schultz,Petry,and Marincin ,and a better second line centre that can play with the big boys.So that’s 3 players and you have Gagner and the first pick to use for bait,then there is ufas.

  • Hair bag

    On another note, I live in Calgary and the guys on the Fan 960 we’re discussing the Oilers and Avalanche last week and how a O’Reilly for Eberle deal might make sense – cap hit is about the same. Oilers would get that coveted 2C that they so desperately need….I really like Eberle but I can’t stop thinking that this deal might make sense. What say you?

    • it makes sense in a big way, but Oilers’ management is convinced that Eberle is a superstar so I just don’t see them pulling the trigger on that. Eberle is polite, modest kid from Regina; they can’t bring themselves to part with s player they ‘like’. its personal for them.

      I would be happy, but stunned if this trade were to actually happen.

  • DSF

    Just another player if moved will light it up somewhere else……..his auditions for the Oilers on the fourth line playing with non-offensive hockey players is hardly a legit chance to prove himself.

    This guy on his worst day has 5 times the skill of Horcoff and Horcoff got played 22 minutes a game……..good grief give the kid a real chance on the top six.

    I’m with you on this one JW……..good summary on a good player.

  • dougtheslug

    Consider the case of Thomas Tatar, (just because I was watching him today playing for Slovakia).

    Drafted by the Red Wings in round 2, 60th overall, in 2009. Significantly less than a point per game player over 4 seasons with Grand Rapids in the AHL. 8 points in 27 games with the Wings in two brief call ups prior to this year.

    Now, at 23, with 4 years in the minors, he is a serviceable winger for the Wings this year ,with 24 points in 49 games.

    Anton Lander was drafted 2nd round in 2009, 40th overall,the same year as Tatar although he is 4 months younger

    Most of Landers NHL experience was 3 years ago, when he was 20 years old, new to North America, and clearly playing for an organization that didn’t have a clue how to develop his talent. He was played in 56 games back then, before the team clued in that a little time in the minors might be useful.

    He has blossomed in the AHL, and although he showed little offensively in his 2 brief call ups over the last 2 years, he was played during those call-ups with typically ham-fisted Oiler 4th liners.

    I see his development on a par with Tatar, and his potential even greater – he is younger, bigger, and seems to possess an above average hockey IQ.

    It’s called development. If the Red Wings were handling Lander this way, DSF would be throwing it in our faces as “the right way” to develop talent. Maybe, just maybe, it is the Oilers that are doing it right this time.

    • DSF

      Interesting comparsion.

      AHL records:

      Anton Lander – 98GP – 26G – 37A – 63P

      Tomas Tatar – 265GP – 87G – 109A – 196P

      Now, which one of these players looks most likely ready for NHL employment?

      Worth noting that Lander has played 79 NHL games and recorded 2 goals and 9 points while Tatar has played 76 NHL games and has recorded 18 goals and 32 points.

      While I agree is unfair to judge Lander based on this early NHL games he never should have played, I do think he should be judged on the 23 games he has played in the last two seasons in which he has scored exactly ONE assist.

      Suggesting he would perform better if handed a top 6 role with better line mates is exactly the kind of mistake the Red Wings would never make.

      Tatar is averaging 14:11 in TOI/G which ranks him 10th among Detroit forwards.

      That compares pretty closely to the ice time Ryan Jones receives.

      Difference is, when Tatar got his shot…he produced.

      Lander hasn’t.

      It’s entirely possible the light has gone on for Lander this season but it’s also possible he’s one of the hundreds of AHL players whose game just never translates to the NHL.

      Gifting him second line minutes is NOT something Detroit would do so, unless he can knock Boyd Gordon out of the #3C spot, I would imagine he’d be playing on the 4th line.

      And, if the Oilers do manage to move Gagner, Arcobello is the more logical and deserving candidate to take that spot since he has proved he can produce in the NHL.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    once the Oilers start trading guys before the deadline (i hope), i’d like to see Lander, Arco, Pitlick, Horak and Klefbom all come up for another look see. but i’d leave C. Hamilton, Gernat, Musil and Davidson down for more seasoning.

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers need a number 2 center. Unless Gagner pulls a miracle out of his a%^.Which is highly doubtful. The Oilers are in between a rock and an Eckblad. Going forward they need a #2 center who can find his own end of the ice. But there stands Eckblad looming like a Shea Weber cutout. How does MacT reconcile need vs desire?

    Peter stastny is no lock to sign here. Or in the NHL next season.The pickings are slim this off season for free agency. A trade at the deadline for a #2 is unlikely.

    Draft day will likely see the Oilers taking another Sam. Sam in. Sam out.

    Lander is the Oilers 4th line center to finish the season.His time has come.For others there past due date is long come and gone.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Perron Statsny Eberle

    Hall Hopkins Yakupov

    Kulemin Gordon Michalek

    Hendricks Boyle Glass

    Robidas Hainsey

    Shultz Diaz

    Petry Marincin

    Halak Scrivens

    Let Ekblad, Nurse and Klefbom develop in the AHL properly. Let Petry and Marincin play 5 minutes.

    Oilers have 34+ in cap space this can easily be done. Lots of good players like Ott, Callahan, Moulsen, Orpiks availabe as well and Oilers can overpay.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    That lineup above gives me hope.

    Defense can move the puck. Looks reliable and steady.

    Forwards have depth and scoring on all lines. Top line looks formatable, Hall on the second line with Hopkins.

    Goaltending is a solid as duo as you can find in the NHL.

    Tons of players like Ott, Callahan, Moulsen, Orpiks, Downie, Stempniak, Zidlicky, Girardi, Raymond, Jagr, Markhov, Mitchell, Greene, Boyle, Meszaros, Vanek, Nikitin available that can help the oilers- be nice to see the 34+ million(39+ after the Gagner trade) spent on size and defense.

  • DSF

    In other news…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.

    And he has managed to surpass Lander’s NHL output: 49GP 12G 12A 24P

    Lander isn’t “laying waste to the AHL”.

    Toffoli is.

    • DSF

      Well, I don’t think they’ll be able to trade Gagner unless they keep a big chunk of his salary.

      Interestingly enough, the Oilers have only 2 defensemen under contract for next season…Ference and Marnicin.

      They also have zero goaltenders under contract.

      I think what you will see happen is the Oilers will try and cobble together a lineup from the prospects.

      Should be interesting.

  • DSF

    Anton Lander needs to be called up, but he also needs to be on 2nd or 3rd line – NOT buried on the 4th. He has no way of showing what he can do when he is lined up with slow skating line mates. 6 games at 2nd or 3rd centre might well be an eye opener for the coaching staff – if he fails, well, we know he’s history. Give the kid a chance.

  • 719

    Yes there are some guys who have some impressive point totals in the AHL but they are often 5-7 years older than Lander and have played in as many as 51 games this year. Through callups and injuries Lander has played in only 34.

    Lander’s numbers are impressive when you consider his age (1991 birth year). There are only a handful of forwards in his age range who are averaging better than a point per game in the AHL.

    Colton Sceviour (2007 draftee)

    Ryan Strome (2011 draftee, 5th overall)

    Zach Boychuk (2008 draftee)

    Stephane Da Costa (2007 eligible but undrafted)

    Mike Hoffman (2009 draftee, but 24 years old now)

    Anton Lander is 2 years younger than everyone that list, except Strome who was a top 5 draft choice in his year. The Oilers could have a real winner on their hands.

  • Acumen

    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.

  • Acumen

    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.