The Oilers signed Anton Lander to a one year, one-way deal worth $600,000. It makes sense for both sides, but it doesn’t guarantee Lander a roster spot.

Lander was drafted in 2009. He made his NHL debut in 2011, even though he wasn’t ready for NHL minutes. Lander’s development curve is not one the Oilers will use for any powerpoint presentation on how to develop young players.

“Lander played 56 games as a 20-year-old rookie and he averaged 10:36/game. He was essentially a 4th line player averaging 8:53 of ES TOI/game and 1:36/game on the PK. How would anyone expect him to produce offensively playing in that role?

He was eventually sent down to OKC in late February and played 14 regular season and 14 playoff games. Last season, he started in the AHL due to the lockout, played 4 NHL games early in the year, was sent back to OKC and then recalled for the final 7 NHL games before going back down for the playoffs.

He never had a consistent, defined role until this past season in OKC. He was named captain and started the season very well. During two lengthy stints in OKC he produced 18 goals and 52 points in 46 games.

He was recalled to the Oilers and played eleven between December 5th and January 2nd. He played 10 minutes or less 6 times, before being sent back to OKC. He was recalled again and played 15 games between March 14th and April 12th. These 15 games were the first time he was given consistent minutes. He averaged 16:26 over the final 15 games. He only produced one point.”

I wrote that summary of Lander’s first few years earlier this year, and while the past hasn’t been great, his present and future could still be bright.

Lander will come to training camp in September and compete for a job. The 4th line C spot is vacant with the retirement of Ryan Smyth, so Lander, along with Mark Arcobello (who has the exact same contract as Lander) and others will compete for a centre position. If Lander can improve his foot speed this summer he will have a good shot to make the team.

He will need to earn his icetime and if he can provide some offence he could swap spots with Boyd Gordon. Gordon is an elite 4th line centre, who can play 3rd line minutes, but he doesn’t provide much offence. If Lander is going to earn more minutes he has to find a way to translate his offence from the AHL last year into the NHL.

It won’t be easy, but Lander is still young, 23, and he is a hard worker.

When I spoke to Lander earlier today (he will join me on TSN 1260 today at 5 p.m. MDT), he said his main focus his getting stronger and faster. He knows his limitations, so we’ll see how much he can improve on them before September 15th.

Lander needs to make a positive impression on the Oilers, at the NHL level, to earn another contract. They like his leadership skills, his defensive awareness and his drive, but he needs to produce in the NHL if he wants to stay here next season.

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  • Spydyr

    Not a bad signing. I like Lander and what he’s done this past season. I also like the fact he’s sticking it out with the organization here a bit longer. He’s been mishandled at times and still has the drive to become a player in North America.
    Unfortunately for him I think he needs a lot of homework. Continued progress working on his center ice playing position and the skills he needs to better are obvious. Also extra work after practice on the wings so long as it doesn’t take away from his main practice duties would benefit him greatly and Perhaps help him become a definite nhl roster player.

  • bazmagoo

    IMO, a one year contract at $600K is doable…the kid earned this from the year he had on the farm team for now… but for this guy to stay up soon with the Oil for good, he needs to produce and have a good tag team partner or two to work with on his line.

    With the Oil…Playing him here there andanywhere (at various limited minutes per game) does not give the kid confidence to be effective enough, nor offence oriented enough either.

    If he is granted the 4th line center status (based on that he earns it) then he needs two competent wingers to play with… cause Gazdic type guys aint gonna help him out at all.

    I understand the Oil needs a tough guy such as Gazdic to police the other teams but better talent combinations always helps produce more.

    Playing Lander with Pitlick, Hendricks, Joensuu regularly may be the better way to get this kid going just like he did with the Barons this past year.

    Was going to say get Horak in there with him…but I just heard that Horak signed with a team in the KHL. Thats another role player type loss the Oil does not need right now.

    Not expecting big points production but if he is with the right type of flanker wingers then he should be able to put up 30 to 40 points at the least, be a plus 4 to 10 type player and then his PK help could be even more effective as well.

    All in all, I will be pulling for this kid til possibly that someone better is apparent.

  • bazmagoo

    Another sound management decision by MacT, so glad Lowe is now sitting upstairs picking his nose or whatever he does with his time. Exactly what I was hoping for, fully expect Lander/Arcobello to battle it out for a spot on the big team, with the loser leading the way in OKC. Go MacT!

  • Spydyr

    Meh… more year to show he cannot produce offensively at the NHL level.

    He is a place holder for a better player coming up or a good call up from the AHL.

  • John Chambers

    Yes. All day.

    If you can build your roster with guys like Lander and Arcobello, you can afford to get guys like Phaneuf or overpay for Markov.

    3 or 4 quality role players earning less than $1M a year are what competitive teams are made of.

    Well done, MacT.

    • bazmagoo

      The more I see Markov in the playoffs, the more I think he’d be a great fit for the Oilers. If Montreal isn’t willing to offer him the term he’s looking for hopefully MacT is all over it. He would be a great place holder to give our young defencemen the chance to develop properly.

      • Strange Tamer

        I’m not sure if I would want to get in a term war with them but I would offer him a 2year $18M contract. He’s gonna get 4 years at $6M per at least so maybe he’d take $9M per for 2 years.
        I might do the same 2 year, stupid money deal for David Legwand. There’s no way any sane elite or semi elite player is signing here this summer unless they get overpaid. I would do it short term until our d can get some experience and our forwards learn how to win.

        • Sorensenator

          This HAS to be a tongue in cheek comment. $9M per for DAVID FREAKING LEGWAND let alone Markov. LOL.

          Yeah lets make one of these 2 guys (or both it sounds like you are suggesting) one of the highest paid players in the history of the NHL. LOL.


          • bazmagoo

            I agree that it would be a massive overpay and maybe the number isn’t quite $9m, but if the oilers are offering the same money or term as every other team why the heck would either of those players or anyone else of value sign here this year. They won’t! So the 2 year term mitigates the stupid money in my opinion.
            This does a few things, it means you don’t have trade Eberle plus whatever for a high end dman. Nuge gets a little softer minutes defensively. Whoever you take at the draft gets a chance to develop properly either back in junior or with less pressure and in two years if our current group plus prospects aren’t ready for prime time then were gonna have waaaay bigger problems than making Markov and Legwand two of the highest paid players in the world.

          • Harry2

            Probably same reason J.Schultz signed here is why others might as well . They get to play more and in a prominent role on what looks to be a team on the rise . Albeit , this year was more a flop .

          • John Chambers

            Do you have a better way to get a #1 Dman until our guys can develop? If you do I would love to hear it. Just for the record, IMO, Phanuef, is nowhere close to a #1 Dman and neither is Braydon Coburn.

            The whole point of the deal is that he may not be able to say no and its for only 2 years.

          • Zarny

            A 1D by definition is one of the top 30 D in the league.

            Phaneuf makes that list before Markov. And Coburn has better corsi stats than both. Offering Markov $18M over 2 years would be stupid beyond belief.

          • bazmagoo

            I think Markov at 3 years/15 million could be a reasonable overpay (if there is such a thing). According to rumours, Montreal is wanting to sign him for a 1 year deal at a time from here on, and they have to sign PK Subban this offseason which is going to be a monster hit for them. Could be an opportunity for a desperate team/manager to overpay for a temporary fix to the problem. Markov has been awesome this playoffs!

          • Sorensenator

            There is no “better way” to get a #1 defensemen because it would involve trading RNH or Hall to get one of the 10 – 15 #1 D men in the league.

            While I agree with you Dion Phanuef is not a #1 D man, he is definitely a #3 and a #2 on most teams as his stats suggest.

            Phanuef has racked up 371 points in 680 NHL games, which is good for 0.55 PPG as a defensemen, and he was a +3 this year while facing the toughest competition.

            If the Oilers picked up Phanuef he would immediately be their best defenseman.

            Think they can do better?

            Here is a list of the top 15 defensemen in the league right now, think hard of what it would take to acquire one. (Not necessarily in order)

            1. Zdeno Chara
            2. Shea Weber
            3. Duncan Keith
            4. Ryan Suter
            5. Erik Karlsson
            6. Drew Doughty
            7. P.K. Subban
            8. Kris Letang
            9. Alex Pietrangelo
            10. Ryan McDonagh
            11. Brent Seabrook
            12. Kevin Shattenkirk
            13. Niklas Kronwall
            14. Oliver Ekman Larsson
            15. Dan Girardi

            Head spinning?

            The list spirals downward from there drastically.

        • Strange Tamer

          That would be some “bold” outside the box thinking. Short term gain, no long term risk, no asset loss. Definitely one way to improve the team both short and long term. Cap space might be our best asset to use to improve team as the guys on the trading block are coming off brutal seasons and aren’t worth the kind of useful assets we need.

          This really could be an avenue worth pursuing now that Omark is gone so the Weber deal is off.

  • vetinari

    I don’t know if this guy really fits what we need in the bottom 6. I like both Gordon and Hendricks but neither are point producers and quite honestly would be 4th line guys on most other teams. Lander hasn’t exactly shown he can produce. We need a bit more scoring touch in the bottom 6. As I’ve said before, I think Lander is MA Poulliot 2.0, in many respects. He’s a highly regarded player within the organization for no particular reason other than the braintrust blindly putting their bets on him.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, given the type of minutes GOrdon played, he compares incredibly well to other teams’ third line centres. Saying he is not good enough for that role is ludicrous.

      Gordon: 21 points
      Suter: 26 points
      Horcoff: 20 points
      Stoll: 27 points
      Chipchura: 20 points

      Good playoff teams have 3rd line centres that net mid 30’s to mid 40’s in points. But there of course many other teams with worse point productions. And again, given that he played the second toughest minutes in the league, I would say he could be right there.

      • Jason Gregor

        Horcoff was mainly a 4th line C and winger this year.

        Gordon can be a 3rd line C on a bad team, but not sure I see him on a good team. He doesn’t come close to offensive production of Stoll or Horcoff historically, and today Stoll also plays about 1:30/game on the PP. Gordon not close to him offensively.

        Gordon can play hard minutes, and be in your top PK unit, but if he is on your 3rd line you can’t play him with offensive players. He is not a point producer. Never has been. If he and Hendricks are your 3rd line then you are putting too much pressure on top-six to produce. Need a 3rd line with some offence IMO.

        • John Chambers

          You can mitigate a low-scoring 3rd line with Defensemen who score.

          I think if the Oilers have button-down 3rd and 4th lines, and add some Dmen who can deliver on the powerplay and on the rush, they can survive.

          It would also help immensely if Yakupov can take a step forward offensively giving the 2nd line a big push.

    • vetinari

      How is giving an NHL contract to an AHL player a “value contract” ?

      He has shown repeatedly that he can’t play at this level. At best he becomes Shaun Van Allen, which means he is two years away. At best.

      The Edmonton Oilers are a poor hockey operation.

      • vetinari

        $600,000 is nothing against the cap and all teams need depth. If he’s demoted, it counts nothing against the cap.

        He’s proven that he can handle playing against pro’s in the AHL and needs to figure out how to translate that success in the NHL. If he can, then it is great value to the team.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          Yes it is. I have made that comparison numerous times and labelled it a best case outcome for Lander. Dominated the ahl scoring stats for 5 years, had foot speed issues…eventually became a bottom six NHLer as a checking forward at age 26.

          Shaun Van Allen was the type of player you could sign as a UFA or pluck off waivers. So is Lander.

      • ubermiguel

        I hope he turns into an NHL player this year, I really do…otherwise management has to cut him loose or give him a one-way AHL contract next year. 8 points in 94 NHL games is not an NHL player. Jason Smith put up points at twice the rate of this guy.