Where Have You Gone, Anton?

“Hold me”

I may not know where you went, Anton Lander, but I know where
you’re going.

Like most everyone else in Oil Country, I was pleased when
Anton Lander joined the Oilers last year and looked like he had finally turned
the corner. Todd Nelson, enigmatic European whisperer, had worked his magic
with a few Oiler players and the former 40th overall pick was among
them.

Lander, of course, had failed in his previous stints with
the club. He was rushed into the NHL way too quickly and it took the organization a long
time to correct that. 56 games in the NHL during the 2011-2012 season when he
was AHL eligible and waiver exempt even though he only produced six points the
entire time.

The lockout shortened 2012-2013 season wasn’t much kinder to
the Swedish centre either. Ultimately he would appear in just 11 NHL games and
contribute just a single assist. The maddening part was that even though he was
all but useless offensively in the NHL, he was blossoming into a very effective
AHL scorer.

Still, despite picking up 52 points in 46 games with the OKC
Barons in 2013-2014, he again mustered just one assist with the Oilers in 27
games that year. Things were so bad that when he entered the 2014-2015 season
he looked like a shell of a man in training camp. Mock “body language” all you
will, but he carried himself like a guy who knew he couldn’t play in the NHL.

He was put on waivers. Nobody wanted him.

It’s easy to blame former head coach Dallas Eakins for the
failings of this player, or that is to say it WAS easier to blame him after
Lander came back with a vengeance in the Todd Nelson portion of last season. 20
points in 38 games is fantastic production by a third line center.
Corner turned, right? Apparently not.

We know that under at least some conditions he can play and
produce in the NHL, and that’s why this season has been so damned frustrating.
Even after a good training camp, Anton Lander once more looks like he left all
his skills behind or perhaps traded them to the Sea Witch Ursula in exchange
for a set of human legs.

In 18 games this year Anton Lander hasn’t produced a single
point. Not one. Not even by accident.

He’s even behind the backup goaltender in the Oiler scoring
charts!

It’s not that he’s been buried on the fourth line
getting no ice-time and no sugar time. Anton Lander has averaged 15:01 per game
through 18 games and was a regular member of the second power play
unit. He was not playing insignificant minutes. His most common linemate was
Teddy Purcell, who hasn’t had a great start to his year but isn’t without skill
himself.

So he isn’t playing eight minutes a night with Gazdic and off
the special teams because of a coach who hates him. He has nobody to blame for this
start except himself. I can’t tell if this is a case of terrible luck or if he
is simply a head-case. I am constantly reminded of Gilbert Brule, another
player who had the tools to be an effective NHLer but couldn’t put it all
together.

My tipping point was the game against LA. Being offensively
malignant is one thing, but the two offensive zone penalties were too much. I
understand the argument that they happened in the offensive zone because his
line had the puck moving the right direction. The thing is that they were
stupid penalties.

Right now we have to really question whether or not Lander’s
54.8% faceoff percentage is enough of a reason to keep him around when a few
more bodies get healthy. We have to ask that question because Lander isn’t providing
anything else to the club right now. He isn’t adding offense, he’s been one of
the worst Oilers from the perspective of possession, and now he cant even be
trusted to simply not be a complete idiot in the final minutes of the game.

Right now, we have to consider that the best place for him
is back in Bakersfield.

  • It doesn’t matter if he has potential – he’s not using it now! There’s no relaxing, there’s no coming around, there’s no bonding… it’s show time, he’s a performer and he’s not doing his job. Fortunately for him, he won’t be fired – he can be relegated to a minor team to ‘think about’ if he wants to play hockey or make Swedish meatballs for his regular salary. I think a little time at the former will bring him around in Bakersfield. It lit a fire under his arse last year.

    Bring up someone who wants to play hockey. And deserves their ‘chance’ to perform.

  • mr_nihilism

    For what we are paying Anton , we appear to be getting more from him than expected except in scoring compliment . A couple of ill advised penalties last game needs to be addressed adequately , which I am sure they will . It is like Yakupov and his dry spell without McDavid . A 2.5 M forward , but fans want him to overproduce like a 6M forward . At those prices one should expect warts in their games,etc.. Several rookies are getting burned on defence and leading to goals against . Nurse and Reinhart are making some costly mistakes that are costing us points , such as last night . We played well enough to win and probably deserved to win or tie despite several errors . We are getting some good individual play from a variety of players , but not enough of stellar team play efficiency to win close games . Full lineup might help in that regard , but injuries and illness seems to be ingrained into the Oilers .

  • Semi

    I don’t know why, but is it me who thinks the refs are against the oilers this year? Almost every game, they make at least one awful call against us and it’s usually one that can basically decide the game

    • No it’s not just you. If the Oilers are tied with 5 minutes left, the ref will give the Oilers penalty that the other team has gotten away with all game. It happened again against the Kings. NHL needs to do something with Quick the cheater. He did it again last night using his glove to cover to puck so you couldn’t see the puck even if it was across the line. I’m getting sick and tired of the refs hatred against the Oilers.

      It just seems that the refs are upset that the Oilers won the lottery instead of the Maple Leafs.

  • Zamboni Driver

    I believe there is an effective player in him. Maybe he just needs to get “injured’ for a couple of weeks.

    He really did look good finishing off last year.

    • hagar

      The story of our lives.. players that “have something in them,” but a team that can’t win WITH them!!

      This story is getting super old…

      Don’t even think about trading anyone worth anything that will make the team better now, because we are banking on them improving the team next year…

      Same thing goes for next season? The season after?

      We could have already been competitive like 4 years ago with the proper usage of our assets and non assets.

      In PC we trust next year, but in PC I don’t trust next year… the main crew is shifting blame around, while nothing changes.

      Many of us make posts about how things won’t change until the house is cleaned of the old boys, as well as clearing out players for what we need now to improve the team. This summer it was all about how different things are going to be this year, and here we are all, still holding our d’cks with nothing to show for it.

      Next year?

  • Randaman

    Why do Some Oiler fans have this undying loyalty to players?

    Lander is at best an AHL all star. Not all AHL all stars are good enough for the NHL.

    Put him on waivers and see what happens. Maybe he can get his game back in Bakersfield or he gets his game back somewhere else.

    Enough with the 3rd and 4th line projects. Both lines have really under performed this year especially.

    • camdog

      The Oilers have a knack of replacing a Lander/Brodziak with an expensive replacement that is just as bad if not worse, aka a Belanger.

      My perspective isn’t out of loyalty, rather than stubbornness and being cheap. It’s the same reason I wanted to keep DD and Petry. I don’t like to give away things and then pay for overpriced things that are even worse.

  • Zamboni Driver

    The good news is, after 10 years of suck there’s still people that pay to go to the game, but jerseys and merch, watch on T.V and comment on fan sites…

    its like Katz is selling crack. No matter how depressed it gets you, you always go back for more

  • BigBadOilersFan

    I want to see Chia shake these lines up, we need to shake up the top 6 and we need to get a real bottom 6!

    this team is going to give me a heart attack!

  • Randaman

    Trading season doesn’t open up for another few weeks, so there’s not much Chiarelli can do now except evaluate or grab someone else’s problem off the waiver wire.

    I hope he doesn’t use up all that cap space we’re going to have this summer in a knee-jerk move to win more this’s year.

    That said a few lower cost moves will help the players we have now be more successful.

  • Randaman

    I think you try healthy scratching Lander before you send him down and risk losing him for nothing. He is playing hard and making mistakes but has the ability to snap out of the slump.

    Sit him out, calm him down.

  • Randaman

    I am disappointed too, but I think you have to step back. If you compare Lander this year to Gordon last year or even Gordon this year, Lander is doing the same thing at a third of the cost. Why is Gordon a valued player and Lander a disappointment? If he really is the second coming of Gordon, that’s not a bad thing, not at all.

  • Anton is a victim of the injury bug and playing above his NHL skills. He has good leadership and boxcars for the AHL. At best he can become a solid NHL 3rd line center. I have Draisaitl there on a healthy Oilers with Letestu at 4th.

    Anton is heading to Bakersfield when we have too few locker stalls. A good dose of doing well there may be the only medication for his ailment.

  • TM needs do grab Jordan by the ear and tell him to stop overhandling the puck.

    Note to Jordan: You are a great player everyone knows that……..now stop treating every play as a potential highlight reel play!!!! Once in a while try a slapshot if only to try to become less predictable!

    • pkam

      What if we lose Lander to waiver and Yakimov struggles big time here? What is next?

      And of course this is another big mistake by Chiarelli, or blame it on MacT and KLowe?

      • bazmagoo

        I thought it looked like Lander might have tweaked his Groin,you know one of those pesky lower-body injuries which can nag for months sometimes and keep you on the LTIRL.

  • Not saying you need to get rid of Lander, just send him to the AHL for a awhile to get him scoring again. Get his confidence back. He brings a lot of good things to the game. Just needs to start putting the points on the board.

    • HockeyRulz

      Are you joking, we all know Eberle is struggling, but still can be a decent player. But never in a million years would they trade paranin, their best rookie, or Kane, their leading point getter, for Eberle. If you have nothing smart to say, don’t say anything

  • HockeyRulz

    In about 4 weeks the Oilers will be firmly out of the playoffs.

    There will be no pressure on the players so they all will start playing better, probably winning about 60% of their games.

    Management will think all is well and figure the players have finally got it and not make any changes and start next year with hope again.

    We have seen this before

  • Letestu is a bigger bust than Lander,yet he is playing ahead of Lander! Why, because Letestu is a Pete signing and Lander isnt.

    Another taught, do we have the right personnel[coaching] in
    Bakersfield? Seems to me all these guys being sent down are a waste of time {Slepysehv,Parkenien,Lander,,Miller},did they not learn anything in the AHL.I know some of them are young,but they bring nothing to the NHL game.

  • bazmagoo

    I think it’s time to call a spade a spade, Lander looks like a bust. I’ve been a huge fan up until now, but have been thoroughly disappointed so far this season. It’s time for Anton to be benched or sent down to the farm, and to give someone else his opportunity. Can’t have your 3rd line centre bringing zero points over 18 games and expect to be successful. Especially when he is getting 2nd unit power play minutes!

  • hagar

    Lander has been awful, for sure, but with McDavid out, they need him, for now anyway. He is likely neither as good a player as he looked in the second half of last season and the World Hockey championships or as bad as he has looked this year so far. I wanted to strangle him on Saturday, but I’m not ready to give up on him yet. He is better than Brule and he will get through this.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Hate to say it, but Lander’s best compared to one of those “AAAA” players they sometimes talk about in baseball. Too good for AAA, but not good enough for the major leagues. A classic ‘tweener.

    It’s really too bad, because, by all accounts, Lander is a good guy, a good leader and a good worker. He’s the kind of guy you dearly want to blossom on your (NHL) team.

    There’s clearly a professional hockey player there, but it looks more and more like that professional career will take place in the AHL, the KHL, or even back home in the Swedish Elite League. He will be gainfully employed, just not here.

    So yeah, I think he’s entering “tradebait territory” but, that said, I wouldn’t blame the Oilers for going the distance with him, whatever that is. There’s still a lot of institutional memory vis-a-vis Daniel Cleary and Kirk Maltby. I can imagine one of the biggest fears the Oilers have would be that Lander would get picked up by another team (Detroit would love him – he certainly meets their Swedish requirements) and turn into an excellent player. so maybe a return to the minors to get his head on straight is in order, but sooner or later, they’ll need to move on.