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