THE PROFESSIONAL

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If the Edmonton Oilers are going to solve one of their many problems with Anton Lander, what role will it be? Lander is almost 80 games into his NHL career, WHAT does he do well? Let’s start at the beginning.

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Way back in 2009, Lander and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson were going to be a big part of Edmonton’s future. Lander’s draft day scouting report went like this:

  • 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.”
  • Stu MacGregor: “Very excited about Anton. He’s
    a player we look at as a potential second-line centre with for sure
    third-line ability. He’s a great faceoff man, competitive at both ends
    of the ice. Smart, captain of the Swedish under-18 team. All of our
    interviews with all of the Swedish players this past year, everybody
    spoke extremely high of him. Their leader was Anton Lander.”

Lander was drafted in 2009, and then spend two seasons in Sweden honing his skills. In the second SEL season, he scored well enough (49GP, 11-15-26) to imply the Oilers might have a very nice two-way type. When the 2011 rookie camp arrived, things began to hum. 

During a Nation Radio episode, I asked two guests (Bruce McCurdy and Steve Serdachny) about the young Swedish center.

  • McCurdy:  
    Lander might be on the fast track up (to Edmonton). He showed a new
    level of speed that was missing last year. There was one play where he
    just turned it up a notch, and he just turned it on and was gone. It was
    an unexpected burst from that player.
  • 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.

Lander played so well new head coach (Tom Renney) ended up keeping Lander in the NHL that season. And he played with legends.

MUR-DIDDLY-ERDILER’S ROW

In his short NHL career, Anton Lander has not been blessed with quality linemates. His 5×5 linemates since he arrived are not strong; allow me to list his leading TOI partners:

  1. Lennart Petrell 221:18
  2. Ben Eager 199:07
  3. Ryan Jones 130:45
  4. Magnus Paajarvi 112:16

This is not a good group. Edmonton was trying to develop kids six at a time so the two-way center’s slipping through the cracks wasn’t surprising. Losing organizations have been doing this since the beginning of the NHL. Which brings us to now. Why are the Oilers recalling him now?

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There’s your answer. Anton Lander—the man who crawled through 500 yards of Lennart Petrell and came out clean the other end—delivered a quality offensive season in North American pro hockey.


WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

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The NHL doesn’t respond when you request admission. You have to break down the door. Anton Lander is about to get a real chance to do it. If he can, it solves one more problem internally and gives Craig MacTavish a useful player and a value contract for 2014-15.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    I really hope that Lander gets a proper chance. If the Oilers scouting staff thinks that he could play second line center than he should be put in that position and given ample time to be judged upon. Putting him on the 4th line with Gazdic and Jones or Joensuu isn’t going to prove much.

    • dougtheslug

      I think it was 4, watched the game and he did play well, I am sorry but he never came close to putting enough effort in since 06,this is the first time he has been a pending free agent after the trade deadline his whole career and is playing for a contract next year.

      • Johnnydapunk

        Looks like he lost an assist somewhere as icetracker had him at 3 assists, 3 shots, a plus 2 and about 14 mins of ice time, looks like he was on the 3rd line from what I can see with the way the minutes were spread out. Still quite good nonetheless, but he is playing for a contract so I’m not too too shocked.

        In the grand scheme of things it could be worse and the Oil could have Torts behind the bench and an epic meltdown all Canucks style.

        At least with the Oil being poop, there are no real surprises to be had, it’s not like it can get much worse can it? (Please don’t tell me it can get worse… )

  • Philosiphil

    Why are we not bring our best players up from Oklahoma and see what they can do. If we win great and if we loose great as top one or two pick is what we need.

  • Philosiphil

    This is the development model Edmonton has lacked for much of the last 5 years, similar to Deytroyit (listen to MACT say “Detroit”) Lander is being allowed to ripen on the vine, not being rushed. That being said, i agree he was never given a fair look the first time through.

  • dougtheslug

    On a more pleasant note, Alberta Golden Bears just wrapped up another Canada West title. I believe that’s their fiftieth title, including 13 series wins in a row over Calgary.

    Nice to know there is at least one hockey organization in this town that really does know a thing or two about winning.

    • Hair bag

      Playing on the fourth line for a season at 20 was total mismanagement by the Oilers. It was a complete waste of time for a potential second liner to be playing 8-10min a game with under skilled players – it basically stunted his development! He should have been playing big minutes in the AHL for the last 3 seasons… I don’t know that he will turn into a legit 2c but the way they have went about it is just wrong.

  • mesa

    I never thought of Lander as more the a tweener, but the consistant effort in OKC makes me believe there is a player.

    The Oilers need to play him in the top nine, give him 13-15 a night, second line pp, and pk so we can see if he has arrived. I am scared we will him playing 5-7 mins with Gazdic.

    Bugs the heck outta me that Arco and Fedun has gotten the screw job. Arco and Fedun are deserving of call-ups and this is the problem with this organization. I hope both find opportunity elsewhere and make the Oilers pay. I don’t get the Fedun situation. I hear he lacks foot speed, and is small, but he makes quick and effective plays which makes up for his shortcomings. Arco situation is a simple screw job by a bad organization.

    • toprightcorner

      Agree that he needs top 9 minutes and should definitley be playing 3C. They still needt to try and get Gagner going to try and increase his trade value as much as possible so Gorden drops to 4C which is fine casue we all know he is a rockstar!!

      To badd for Arco and FEdun but not surprised. Only had 3 callups left with new CBA agreement and we already have a good idea of Arco in the NHL. Fudun is a tough one but if there was a dman I would want to see it would be Klefbom. Does he have a Marincin like showing, with a much higher ceiling or does he have another half or full season left in the AHL? That answer need to be found.

      With Nurse coming in 2 years and potentially Ekblad in a year or 2, a better guage on Klefbom is required or does he become bait after the draft if they draft Ekblad. Eklblad, Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin all playing their first full season in a two year gap is a cause for disaster. Those guys in the top 6 in 2 years would be like swiss cheeze holding back water, at least 1 of them will have to be traded. Entering this year we had Schults with a half season NHL expirience, Belov with no NHL expirience, Larsen with less than 90 NHL games, Marincin with none, Petry with Under 150 games and only one starter with over 150 games in the NHL.

      If they draft Ekblad, their top dman prospects would be

      – Ekblad/Nurse
      – Nurse/Ekblad
      – Marincin
      – Klefbom
      – Simpson
      – Fedun
      – Gernat
      – Musil
      – Davidson

      Fedun is 25 and is 3-7 years younger than the rest so had really just fallen out of the mix ad will likely be passed by at least 2 of the 3 ranked behind him.

      Solid young group of players but wome will also need to be traded in paclages for veteran dman or bigger AHL forwards with aLH offensive success.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        i just wanna say this about Ekblad. if he’s judged to be the #1 pick overall and Buffalo has the #1 pick, then the Sabres will take him whether or not they took a couple of d-men in the 1st round last year or not, especially if there’s a chance he could play in the NHL next year. if the Oilers end up with pick #2, then they should take Reinhart or trade down. if they took Reinhart, who might have a chance to play in the NHL next year himself, they would have Nuge, Reinhart and possible Lander at the top 3 center positions making Gagner expendable and not that big of a loss having been replaced. but it’s a lot of if’s for sure.

  • Krusher

    Time for Krusher to spread some cheer. Rush go to 9-0. Bold was Scrivens like, especially last possession.

    I wonder if the Oil can sign that Matthews kid. #stud

  • mesa

    How players like Jones/Smyth/Joensuu beat out a Lander or Arcobello is simply mind-numbing logic to me. The level of judgement on the part of coaching and management of this team is beyond imcompetence. Based on stats alone it renders the line-up questionable.

    Eakins is out of his depth. I don’t think he has a clue how to coach a team to success. As long as the GM puts a higher value on saving face and not focus on making the right decisions the Oil are doomed to languish at the bottom of the league. Do Oiler management think that finishing in 9th or 10th next season in the west is going to mollify the fans? My guess is they will have the temerity to try.

    I smell another snow-job in the air.

  • Spydyr

    Paajavi, that was a tragic.

    He came into the league as a very high profile prospect then somewhere in between that he was lost and forgotten. Oilers rush him onto North American ice without a proper upbringing by letting him play in AHL to start with, things just went downhill for Paajavi since then.

    Things are much the same for Lander, it is hard to judge European players and how well can they adjust to NHL. Most of them do have skills but for every Zetterberg that also have every Omark. Most of them need lots of time down in AHL to refine their craft and learn to adapt onto North American ice. Most importantly, it is also how coaches were able to learn players’ weakness and strength by keeping them out of expose weaknesses and take advantage on strengths. So…do you trust Eakins to handle him properly?

    And as usual:

    Fire Eakins! Fire Eakins! Fire Eakins!

  • Spydyr

    If Lander is the answer.The question is why did we miss they playoffs yet again next year?

    He is a minor league player who has never shown any offense in the NHL.He does not hit, fight. piss off the other team.He is easy to play against and intimidates no one.The team has too many of that type of player already.He is the reverse Gagner defense instead of offense.The team does not need more one dimensional players.

    The team needs players that are hard to play against, play well with and without the puck that play a 200 foot game.Players who bring it.More Perrons less Gagners.More Hendrickses less Joneses.

    • Spydyr

      I agree. We’ve seen this movie over and over the last few years. The kid is useless in the NHL at this point. He may make it with another organization in a couple of years as a bottom six defensive specialist like Shaun Van Allen did. Same type of player and trajectory.

      Klefbom should be left in OKC to mature and experience a playoff push. Leave him there until he dominates and forces a call up next season.

      Arcobello and Fedun are the better and more deserving call ups at this point. We now know all the talk from Eakins regarding a meritocracy was complete BS.

      • Spydyr

        I’m not big on Arcobello and Fedun either.Two more small players is not what this teams needs but you are right they are the best they have for this season.

        The team needs a major rebuild(yet again)of the bottom six along with some size with skill in the top six.We all know they need at least two top four defencmen.That might be too much to ask for though.

  • A-Mc

    If lander shows well in a 2C role, things get interesting for MacT at the Draft. MacT might move Gagner out at the Draft and go looking for a replacement in the summer (or start of next season).

    Lander (or even Arco) afford MacT a little strategy room with respect to making moves to eventually address needs.

    I have liked the moves by MacT so far, I am quite excited to see what happens before the start of next season

      • A-Mc

        I didn’t mean to say lander is THE 2C. I meant that if he shows well and can be a stop gap, that may afford macT some breathing room to deal gagner. He likely wouldn’t deal Gagner unless there was some kind of replacement able to fill in either permanently or on temp basis.

  • Spydyr

    We all know that Lander will NOT be put in a position to succeed by Eakins. He will be played in a fourth line role expecting to be the anchor on a line designed to be physical.

    Unless Eakins uses Lander on a second line or third line role………it’s pointless calling him up.

  • Muji

    I’m still waiting for Dallas Eakins midas touch on prospects. Wasn’t that one of the main reasons why they hired him? The thinking was that he could help some of the tweeners the same way he helped Kadri, etc. in Toronto.