Long Lost Lander


Twenty-two games into 2013-14, Anton Lander remains stuck at one assist.

I can’t help thinking that’s going to kill his Oilers career, and possibly his NHL ambitions.

AHL Anton

Anton Lander3

Believe it or not, Anton Lander is an elite AHL player, or at least he played one this season.

For a while, he was taking on tough assignments on a line with Linus Omark, and seemed to defer to Omark offensively. Lander produced in the role and outplayed top AHL lines, but as long as Omark was on the unit it was fair to wonder whether Lander could carry the offence at the AHL level.

Omark was gone by Christmas, and a weird thing happened: No matter who Lander played with, he kept producing. Since January, sans Omark, Lander has 33 points in 25 games in the AHL. He didn’t fluke his way into those points; believe it or not he can both make passes and finish them. He was the offensive centerpiece of a frequently fluctuating top line that kept producing regardless of who was on the wings.

It looked like the final step in Lander’s evolution. He’s a high character guy, someone who says and does the right things and was chosen as Oklahoma’s captain this year despite occasionally uncertain English. He makes smart decisions with the puck and plays a low-risk game. The only real question was whether he could score enough to hang around in the majors, and in the minors it looked like he’d cleared that hurdle.

As one person employed by the parent club told me, “We have to give him a chance.”

NHL Lander


Lander isn’t a top-six guy in the NHL, and he doesn’t have to be. All he had to do was score enough to stick around, to show that he wasn’t a younger version of the ‘Belanger Triangle’, where offence goes to die.

He didn’t get a real shot earlier this year, but Lord knows he’s been given an opportunity on this latest call-up. He’s averaging a hair under 17 minutes per game, getting power play time, and getting shifts with people like Jordan Eberle and David Perron.

He hasn’t looked bad, for the most part. He’s been a nice piece of the penalty kill, and he’s not a guy who gets embarrassed five-on-five, unless he’s taking a faceoff against Joe Thornton (sidepoint: the NHL highlight package on that goal is a fantastic example of the things that SportsNet misses when it skips faceoffs, something the network does over and over again).

But he can’t score, and he’s not a good enough player to get by on zero offence at the NHL level.

There are five games left in the season. There’s no downside to leaving Lander in a feature role (and precious few alternatives anyway), and so he probably has exactly that long to show something. 

He’d better.


  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Extra half step would do Lander good. A summer of power skating may be the cure.

    I don’t see the harm in bringing him back. There are lots of players on the way out or already shown the door so I don’t mind spending one spot on the 50 man on Lander. You need a good AHL team to help develop your prospects and we know Lander can deliver in that capacity. Get those kids playing winning hockey. If we lose him on waivers, well, c’est la vie.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      Ladner has shown no indication that he has NHL ability. Having said that he might still be a late bloomer, or a 4th liner some day.

      Oil should give him a 2 way minimum salary offer. He won’t get anything better.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Just another example of the ” Stellar” Oilers draft record over the past 10 years.

    2009 was especially good with Paajarvi and Lander taken 1 -2. Toss in Hesketh in the 3rd and the whole draft class was a complete bust.

    Oilers have to stop trying the outsmart everyone else in the NHL by scooping up some unknown Euo. Clearly the scouting staff does not have a clue in Europe ( or did they not see Tartar play that year).

    Stick with Canada and US for a few years.

    Call a name like OReilly before Paajarvi ………

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    I can see Lander being slotted into the #2 center role next year at least to start the season! He needs to be played in his prime position with quality wingers!

    • J.R.

      Horrible idea. Lander is playing with quality wingers right now.

      A much better bad idea would be to put Gordon there on the 2nd line…he slays in the dot.

      Oilers need aproven NHL center for their second line. I thought we all knew that?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Anton Lander (22 year old season) in AHL:
    2013-14 Oklahoma City Barons* AHL 43 18 30 48

    Mark Arcobello (22 year old season) in ECHL/AHL:
    2010-11 Stockton Thunder ECHL 33 7 13 20 10
    2010-11 Oklahoma City Barons AHL 26 11 11 22
    Mark Arcobelllo (23 year old season) AHL
    2011-12 Oklahoma City Barons AHL 73 17 26 43
    Mark Arcobell(24 year old season in the AHL)
    2012-13 Oklahoma City Barons AHL 74 22 46 68

    Gustav Nyquist (22 year old season) in AHL
    2011-12 Grand Rapids Griffins AHL 56 22 36 58
    2011-12 Detroit Red Wings NHL 18 1 6 7
    Gustav Nyquist (23 year old season) in AHL
    2012-13 Grand Rapids Griffins AHL 58 23 37 60
    2012-13 Detroit Red Wings NHL 22 3 3 6 6
    Gustav Nyquist (24 year old season) in AHL
    2013-14 Grand Rapids Griffins* AHL 15 7 14 21
    2013-14 Detroit Red Wings NHL 51 28 18 46 10

    Clearly, it would be really dumb to give up on Anton Lander.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    JW, you’re a beauty. I’d trust your take on players quicker than guys who “played the game.”

    Anyways, what is the harm in signing Lander to a one way (or two way) deal, and if he doesnt pan out in the first 20 games, put him on waivers and send him down? Either way you win. He helps OKC or he goes to another team. No biggie.

    I guess the only “cost” is a roster spot that could go to a UFA, but are you really going to overpay and get any better value on the market?

    Guys like Stempniak are better, but at 3M per season, that’s a bit of cap space. Lander at 1M or whatever his number is are low cost chances, and he won’t put up fewer points than Gazdic, I’ll tell you that right now.

    • Harry2

      Id take Stempniak at 3mil anyday of the week over a guy who has 1 point in 20+ games.

      Sign Lander and leave him in OKC where he belongs or put him on the 4th line RW

  • Bishai in the Benches

    I think it’s time to give Gagner a taste of RW on the 2nd line, and give Lander the opportunity to take his spot at Centre. That will give the Oilers a good indication of how each perform in their PROPER position…it’ll also help showcase Gagner.

    • Randaman

      Seriously? How does that give Lander a fair shake? Gagner has had six years. Ship him out, anywhere for anything that helps achieve the end goal. His showcasing days have long past. Did you watch the last 10 games? BRUTAL!!

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      Speaking of Gagner, He must realise that since his broken jaw incident (and by the way, our last game is against the gutless Canuks, I still want to see pay back to Kassian) he hasn’t been the same. Call it lack of drive, afraid to get a shot in the mouth again, loss of confidence; do you think that if he wanted to stay an Oiler, that he would take on a stink in OKC to try and get his game back?

      • Alsker

        He was never that good except maybe on the shoot out and on that one 8 point game. I can not see any team taking him on except for a million dollars a year call up injury reserve.

        • Alsker

          Exactly why MacT signed him to how much $ for how long….he was Klowns first high draft pick and therefore is the original chosen one…sad yes, but so be it..

      • Gordie Wayne

        Nope, he wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t do it if I were him. Plus he’d go through waivers, and at half his price, someone would pick him up…he may be overpaid but if we got stuck with half his salary, it’d be a damn shame to get nothing in return.

        • pkam

          Gagner will need to go thru waivers, but at his full salary, not half salary.

          Only re-entry waiver is claimed at half salary, but I believe re-entry waiver is removed in the latest CBA.

      • Gordie Wayne

        You’re kidding right? Snowpants has a no trade contract for the NHL next year and you’re asking if he’d go to Oklahoma City? Not a chance in H3ll he would agree to that…would you???

        Take the inevitable 3rd rounder in exchange for Mister Potential and move on. He never was, and he never will be, an effective player.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Why rush to judgment? There is something there, he’s only 22 – give him another full season before deciding whether to toss him aside. He could end being a guy like Goc who brings no offence but can PK and hold down your 4C spot

  • Bishai in the Benches

    Only on the Oilers does a “real” shot mean a tryout out-of-position.

    He has what, played one game at centre in this callup. Maybe two.

    Arcobello’s production fell way off once they moved him to wing, but he got a legitimate chance at centre first to show what he could do.

  • Bishai in the Benches

    I almost wonder if Lander is Alexandre Giroux 2.0

    Giroux had 704 points in 771 games, extremely impressive. However, he only managed to play in 48 NHL games, largely due to speed and the inability to think the game at an NHL level of quickness.

    The AHL is much slower than the NHL, and based on what I’ve seen, Lander doesn’t possess the skating ability to be a 2nd line NHL centre

  • Harry2

    I believe your time in OKC being around these players day in day out has made it hard for you to see them for what the really are. Anything to do with the Barons since you went down there has made them sound like the 85 Oilers.

    • You know what? Some guys are great AHL players and they just don’t deliver in the NHL. Patrick Lebeau is a great example – destroyed the AHL and Europe but just couldn’t make the jump. Then there are guys like Andrew Brunette who get a shot and never go back, despite being “too slow” or too whatever for the majors.

      Lander’s been legitimately great in the AHL, and plenty of people in the Oilers organization thought he might have things figured out. I thought he had.

      Unfortunately, the NHL results just aren’t there. Lander did enough to get a cameo, but he hasn’t delivered since. At this point I’d have a lot of trouble giving him a one-way deal.

      • Harry2

        //Unfortunately, the NHL results just aren’t there. Lander did enough to get a cameo, but he hasn’t delivered since. At this point I’d have a lot of trouble giving him a one-way deal.//

        Why? Detroit keeps their guys in the AHL till they are “overripe” as they describe it.

        So at the moment you have a tweener, who really helps in OKC, and is a useful 4th liner in Edmonton.

        Lander’s not a natural. His offense has come slow wherever he has been, but it has come. The Oilers screwed up his development path.

        What is the down side of qualifying him? There really isn’t any.

        Detroit’s overripe AHL’ers have been killing it.

        People say. Don’t rush them to the NHL. OK don’t. But don’t discard a player who is making steady progress.

        The Oilers are breaking in a lot of D in OKC. Those D develop quicker if the team is winning. And if that is all Lander does next year, like Fedun this year, it is well worth signing him.

        • You’re allowed that viewpoint, and certainly dealing with these people all the time hurts objectivity.

          From my point of view, it’s a different problem. The AHL’ers I talk about here are the guys who are pushing for NHL employment – and so naturally, because I’m describing the best of the lot, the comments tend to be rosy. Lander, Fedun, Klefbom; they’ve done good things in the AHL or had a fantastic development curve as the year went on.

          But you’ll note that people like Brandon Davidson and Brad Hunt and Denis Grebeshkov and a whole list of others don’t get talked about a lot. It’s not personal – more than any other player Brad Hunt was fantastic to talk to and deal with – but they aren’t guys who looked like they were knocking on the NHL door in OKC. But rather than frequently write about their failings, mostly those just don’t get talked about a lot because they aren’t terribly relevant to the Oilers.

          Anyway, that’s all a long way of saying that I tend to write more about the guys doing well than the guys doing poorly (because they matter more to the audience), and so naturally my comments tend to be more positive than negative.

    • Harry2

      If our top 2 centers are RNH and a fringe NHLer were screwed next year. We are also screwed if its Gagner or Drisaitl or Reinhart. We need an actual NHL center

      • Bishai in the Benches

        I agree with you completely. It’s just that i think Arco is so much better in all aspects than Gagner. I think Gagner has done his tour of duty with the Oil. We do need experienced player signed in the off seasons that will get us out of the basement .

  • Bishai in the Benches

    “Lander is a quintessential third line center–he excels at the finer points of the game, has an inherent defensive ability rarely seen in younger players” – This from Hockey’s Future site. Reading this suggests that Lander is not projected to put up significant offence at the NHL level, and I tend to agree. His skating, quickness, and reactions just aren’t there…

    With the recent signing of Arcobello, do you see a possibility of running RNH-Arco-Lander-Gordon as our centre depth next season? Seems extremely weak, especially when playing in the Pacific division, however I don’t see Gagner being back next season, and there appears to be a log-jam of #3 centres/utility forwards on this team.

    If the oilers proceed with the centres listed above, I think we’re in for another long season next year, but I think both Lander and Arco are too good to play in the AHL next year…