On Wednesday, the Edmonton Oilers announced that Anton Lander had been recalled from the minors on an emergency basis. It’s the second time in four days the team has brought Lander up due to being down to less than 12 forwards.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 12, 2014
As we found out last time this happened, the recall doesn’t necessarily mean that Lander will get any NHL game action. The Oilers may have a player who is banged up but a gameday decision, but they can’t wait until the actual day of the game to recall Lander because at that point it would be too late.
It’s likely that Lander’s up as insurance for Sam Gagner. He took a hit from Matt Cooke late in the Oilers’ win over Minnesota, and didn’t skate in practice on Wednesday; head coach Dallas Eakins said that he had “tweaked his ankle” and that they felt rest was what was best for Gagner.
If Gagner can play, it seems probable that the Oilers would return Lander to the minors so as to avoid burning a recall. Edmonton only gets four post-deadline (non-emergency) recalls, and they’ve used two of them (on Philip Larsen and Oscar Klefbom).
If Gagner can’t play, though, this is a great chance to get a look at Lander in a role other than uber-conservative fourth liner. Gagner’s been playing between Taylor Hall and David Perron, so it’s possible that Lander would plug right into that slot. Alternatively, the top-six could be rejigged, which would leave Lander with two of Hall, Perron, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov. It’s not likely that Boyd Gordon would get bumped out of third line duty, and it’s virtually certain that Ryan Smyth won’t move up.
So it’s an all or nothing situation. Either Gagner will be well enough to play and Lander will sit, or Lander will have a great chance between quality players to show that he should be in the Oilers’ plans beyond this season.