According to reports out of Sweden, Anton Lander could be taking over for Russia to play in the KHL after this season is over.
The Swedish hockey website, HockeySverige.se, has found rumours coming out of Russia that
the Wayne Gretzky of the AHL Anton Lander will be ending his North American playing days to become “one of the highest paid foreign players in the league.” The article doesn’t specify what kind of contract offer Lander has allegedly received, but it looks like it will be with AK Bars Kazan.
With the AHL season still in full swing and the Condors chasing down a playoff spot, I doubt that we’ll be getting any comment from Lander on the matter but the news shouldn’t be surprising. After playing 61 games in Edmonton last season, Lander has been limited to only 22 this year and doesn’t look likely to be recalled unless someone gets injured. That’s not a great spot to be in for a guy in his mid-20s and supposed to be entering the prime of his career.
Back in February, we posted an interview that Lander had done with friend of the Nation, Uffe Bodin, in which he said that was not only frustrated by being sent down but couldn’t even find the words to describe how he felt about the season. If anything, the interview shows that this is a frustrated player that likely knew that his time with the organization was winding down.
Personally, I’m not overly surprised that Lander would want to explore new opportunities overseas, especially if he can cash in on a big payday like the article implies. Lander is clearly too talented for the AHL but can’t seem to find a way to stick at the NHL level, and I can also understand why he would get bored being the big fish in that pond. The craziest part is that the guy can put up ridiculous numbers (22G, 24A in 31GP) in the minors but struggles to get anything done at the NHL level unless it’s winning faceoffs and killing penalties.
On a personal level, I can see why bouncing up and down between the Oilers and Condors would start to get annoying and when those recalls dried up that must have driven Lander nuts. It’s wild to think that there was a time when some folks thought that Lander was going to be captain material for the big club, but that all seems like a distant memory with the way things actually played out. At the end of the day, hockey can be a cold business and Lander is feeling the brunt of that truth this season.
As much as I would like to see him stick around with the club to keep that depth down the middle, I can also understand why he would want to cash in on the years he has left. Who knows if this report out of Russia is accurate or not, but would anyone really be that surprised?
LANDER’S CAREER WITH THE OILERS