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)

  • 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?

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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.