Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Lander to the KHL?

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.

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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.

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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?


Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
2011-12 Oilers NHL 56 2 4 6 12
2011-12 OKC AHL 14 1 4 5 10
2012-13 OKC AHL 47 9 11 20 22
2012-13 Oilers NHL 11 1 1 2
2013-14 OKC AHL 46 18 34 52 30
2013-14 Oilers NHL 27 1 1 4
2014-15 OKC AHL 29 9 22 31 20
2014-15 Oilers NHL 38 6 14 20 14
2015-16 Oilers NHL 61 1 2 3 18
2016-17 Oilers* NHL 22 1 3 4 6
2016-17 Condors AHL 31 22 24 46 10
NHL Totals   215 10 25 35 56


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  • silicov

    Good for him. If he can’t make it in the NHL, he might as well go tear up the KHL. At this point, it’s not a big loss for the team, since Chia and Todd weren’t really interested in using him much anyway.

  • passenger

    I hope that, someday, we all speculate as to just how much better Lander’s HOF AHL numbers would have been had he not spent all those years in the KHL.

    Fly free BoBandy, eat caviar with Scrivens and laugh about the bad old days. You deserve it.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    It’ll be sad to see him go, but Lander’s one of the few Oilers prospects/draft picks in which it can be said, definitively, that he was given every chance to have success in the NHL. The Oilers got him over here and played him right away and gave him lots and lots of ice time to succeed. And, given how he’s played in the AHL, I doubt it can be argued that his force-feed into the NHL stunted his development. He developed into an excellent player, just not for the NHL. That’s just how it goes sometimes. He’s like the classic 4-A baseball player – too good for triple-A but not good enough for the majors. Nothing wrong with that – he can still make a lot of money playing the game. I wish him well – just as the Oilers owe him nothing, he owes them nothing either.

    • Sir Dudeinstein

      “gave him lots and lots of ice time to succeed.”
      May I ask something? his TOI in 2014-2015 (With Todd Nelson might I add) he had his most productive season right? 20 points in 38 Games played. His Average TOI/GP is 15:00 during that season.
      Other than that he averaged roughly 10 minutes per game. The Oilers I think did not put him in situations to succeed offensively through his career. On a failing Oiler team since 2011 he his +/- has been arguably not terrible (worst season was -12 during 2014/2015 season) and yet he gets criticize for his offensive play. He was never put in a role to be successful offensively and we cannot expect a 4th line to put up 40+ points in a season.

      since your looking at the AHL numbers, look at his role and TOI during that time compare to what he been given in NHL. Look at the linemates (compare to the league if you want) Thats my question to you for analysis

      • Spaceman Spiff

        So I take it you feel Lander’s got NHL-level offensive ability that no one on the Oilers coaching staff(s) have been able to recognize over the past six years? Or, for that matter, offensive ability that scouts from the other 29 teams recognized and suggested their GMs trade for?

        I think we, as Oilers fans, have a tendency to weave players like Lander into the same tired narrative we’ve used for players like Kyle Brodziak or Jason Chimera or Justin Schultz or Kirk Maltby or Ray Whitney. But we forget that those players were here-and-gone in a short period of time. Our looks at them were short and brief; Lander’s been around for years and years.

        Listen … I agree with your assertion that Lander didn’t have the quality-of-linemates and TOI, but at some point, the true NHL players need to “show” something to earn either. Lander didn’t – at least not beyond 20pts-in-38GP flashes (never mind that those 38 games were essentially garbage-time in another lost season).

        Lander doesn’t have the hands or wheels to produce NHL offence. He’s not quick enough or big enough for a checking role in the NHL. His leadership skills (which I think are actually the biggest thing the Oilers have wasted with this player) came into a room full of clueless coaches and rudderless ships that a 30-year-old Mark Messier wouldn’t have been able to motivate out of the morass.

        Lander just couldn’t get traction here. But I’m also convinced that he wouldn’t have gotten traction in places like Detroit or Chicago, either.

        That’s because he’s just not a full-time NHLer. He’s had his chance to become one and his ceiling topped out at “excellent minor-leaguer and fringe NHLer.” There’s no harm, shame or fault in that.

        • Sir Dudeinstein

          I am not saying Lander will put up 60 point seasons I am basically saying when was he given the opportunity and chance to play on a top 6 forward role for the Edmonton Oilers.
          How many times have the Oilers not play players to their strength,
          I personally think Lander needs a new start, KHL, another NHL team, regardless, but we are turning this game into a stat battle and analytical debate and honestly, we struggle how many nights in and out for a faceoff player, and we have a faceoff PK specialist and yet, we put a player like Hopkins out constantly and he wins what 30%? Caggulia wins what another 30%? We need help down the center and we are chasing away players who doesnt put up points because we criticize players who isnt what we expect them to.

          To throw your point about hands or wheels, Eberle doesnt have the wheels, I think it seems hes about as fast as Lucic, He isnt even leading his line in goals (Lucic and Hopkins have more goals than him) and yet, we keep gifting him 15+ minutes per night when hes producing like a 3rd liner, and back checks like a baseball player.

          I do agree Lander has the leadership skills but did you expect players like Hall and Eberle, to listen to a player who makes less than them, wait that was already brought up when a couple veterans got ran out of town. Our clueless coaches from the past were rookie coaches who took orders from the upper management. Got told who to play.

          Lander I think would of done well in Chicago or Detroit because he would of been shown a bit more than what was shown here with Eakins, and Renney. Todd Nelson I think got the most out of Lander and becuase he actually know what Lander was capable of.

          I personally think hes going to the KHL because he is still stuck as a RFA and knows his time with the Oilers is gone and he isnt getting any younger. I give Lander props to sticking with this organization through the low.

  • I remember watching Lander at the World Juniors and getting fired up about his two-way play. If only McDavid could let him use his turbo button from time to time then maybe we wouldn’t be here right now.

    • Sir Dudeinstein

      “We will start you off on the 3rd line. Give you two shifts of that and if you dont get a point we will move to the 4th line against weaker opponents. With that expect 70 points or your consider as a bust.”
      Something that Eakins would say.

      • FISTO Siltanen

        “Do you know what the perfect 4th line player is? No, I’m asking you Mark, do you? One who never gets shots because he’s checking the whole game.”

        Dallas Eakins

  • I saw Lander play in Sweden when he and MPS (remember him?) were with Timrå in the SEL and he impressed me even more than Magnus. Was really excited about him joining the big club but it looks like this might be the end of the road. If it’s true I hope he has great success in the KHL and maybe opens himself up a new NHL opportunity some day.

  • BornInAGretzkyJersey

    I bear Anton no ill will, and hope he blows the doors off the KHL and cashes in many millions over the years.

    I do, however, wish the news would have been kept under wraps until after the expansion draft. It would have been better to have one more soldier to dangle, whether or not he was likely to get picked.

  • Not a shocker. Even Leon Draisaitl wouldn’t score on a 4th checking line. I remember his first year how excited I was but when I saw him on the 4th line opening night I was worried the coaches saw him differently. The only time he was put in a position to succeed was with Todd Mclellan. I wouldn’t be shocked if in a few years he’s one of those European prized FAs(eg.Raanta, Lehtera, Ramo, Sekac)

    • mithaman

      This is False. He got tons of opportunity over the years to play up the line up and on the power play. Was used very similarly to Mark Letustu who has 15 goals…Kassian/Pitlick and others also received similar “checking” minutes and have produced just fine…This is on the player. Best of luck Anton. Get $$$

      • Sir Dudeinstein

        Why is Caggulia still up if that is the case? I mean 13 minutes of ice time a game average, 12 points in 51 games? 39.4% FOW not exactly tells me NHL ready, yet Lander is at 56% in the faceoff circle where the oilers need help. Yes I will give credit is due, 12 of letestu goals did come on the power player, but can I ask who he is playing with? and when was the last time Lander played with that caliber of linemates?

      • ET

        And that comment mithaman is why you are just one more of the moronic know nothing fans that this site seems to attract! Brush up on your knowledge of the game or move South to live with the Yankees who also know nothing about hockey. Anton is just one more example of a prospect that this organization and coaching staff have wrecked.

        • Sir Dudeinstein

          I dont think Mithaman has watched a hockey game, I think he looks at the score sheet after gives his 3 stars and becomes an expert on who plays well.

  • Bills Bills

    I don’t understand how the worst faceoff team in the league and lately one of the worst penalty killing teams in the league can’t make a roster spot for for a guy that excels in those two areas. He clearly has some hands and if they haven’t translated because of his foot speed or the fact that Edmontons 4th line for the last 4 or 5 years has been a total joke, I don’t know. But the way he has been on fire in the AHL this year, which far exceeds what he’s done in the past, warrants at least one more look from where I stand.

  • ScottV

    Lander doesn’t fit with McL’s approach. He would do better in a more systemized 3rd or 4th line approach, that emphasizes 5 man group play. Scoring by committee – two way oriented, appropriate risk vs reward. McL really doesn’t value what Lander could bring for some of the right and some of the wrong reasons. Example – a preference for a guy like Desharnais over Lander as 3c. Desharnais is gonna give you more flash, but Lander – maybe more cash. I say maybe, because I just wish Lander was a little quicker.

  • Oiler Al

    Not only is his foot speed to slow ,his ability to process the speed of NHL play seems to be an issue. Writting was on the wall, when Desharnais was brought over…. nice guy, his wife and family are not in America… think he had a plan. Goback , pick up some rubles and enjoy whats left of your career.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    I like lander but I’m glad we can stop hearing about a guy who has 10 goals in 215 games needs an opportunity.

    Pitlick has played 58 games and has 11 goals in that time while playing bottom 6 minutes.

    If you can’t produce at all in the bottom 6 against weak competition, you’re probably not good enough for the NHL.

  • StephLee

    Man, that sucks. I may be one of the few, but I was a fan of lander and I always pulled for him to be called up and secure a roster spot. sail on sir, I hope you do well on your new path!!

  • toprightcorner

    I have been expecting Lander to go to the KHL. You don’t need speed to succeed in that league. Patrick Thorenson had speed issues and couldn’t score in the NHL, he went to the KHL and was one of the leading scorers for over 5 years. Lander could make triple the amount and be one of the top 30 in scoring.

    He is a great kid with amazing character and I hope he gets the chance at more money and success.

        • someguy

          No, you cannot. There’s a reason they call it a deadline – as of 3pm Eastern time on the trade deadline day, there is a moratorium on all trades. Recalls from the minors can still be done, not sure about waiver claims. However, trades cannot happen until after the Stanley Cup is awarded and the season is officially over. Typically, though, teams will usually wait until the entry draft to make trades as most players, executives, coaching staffs, and training staffs will usually vacation right after the season is over. After a week or so, executives will meet with each other to discuss strategies for all the key upcoming dates, coaches will meet to discuss roster changes for the new season, etc.

    • someguy

      Lander at this point is what you’d call an “AHL bubble player.” Those players are a dime a dozen, so his trade value would be minimal to none. It’s possible some other team might’ve taken a flyer on him if they wanted to, but again chances of that are slim to none as the book on him had already been written. He’s not the first player who can excel in the AHL but fail in the NHL and he won’t be the last.

  • JBear

    Lander hasn’t been given the opportunity, really, other than with Todd Nelson. He has shown he has the ability and potential to score. If anything, trade him, just don’t let him go because he does have some value. Moreso than Pitlick because he isn’t always injured.

  • YFC Prez

    He had every chance to succeed. This one is on the player.

    But why do I feel like I said that before?

    * looks at standings*

    *sees Jultz 5 th in league scoring while +32 and playing on the top line in pits*

    * remembers the recent Vezina finalists*

    * reads article on cogs iron man streak*

    *cries and waits for lander to find certain success with another franchise*

    • Sir Dudeinstein

      Unfortunately for Lander hes a RFA.

      Schultz had every opportunity and chance to succeed in edmonton, except someone to show him the way and someone to actually coach him.
      Dubnyk never had a team infront of him to help him
      Cogs wanted to play winger, Edmonton wanted a center,
      Lander just doing what he is told on the ice. Unfortunately in AHL its an offensive role, with Oilers its a defense first mentality center.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    who really values Gregors opinion on whom should start in goal ? earrings are way to tight.

    Seriously man , you are the host of the show but we get your opinion , over and over and over.

  • dsanchez1973

    I thought this site was full of people who looked at information before commenting.

    There are tons of comments here saying Lander was given a chance, he had his shot, etc etc. As Staples pointed out today: “his most common linemates in the NHL have been Lennart Petrell, 221 even strength minutes, Iiro Pakarinen, 217 minutes, Matt Fraser, 213 minutes, Teddy Purcell, 211 minutes, Luke Gazdic, 202 minutes, and Ben Eager, 199 minutes” If you’re expecting him to raise those players up to be an offensively dynamic third line, yeah, you’re in for a disappointment because they are all garbage players.

    In 50 games, Caggulia has 7 points 5v5 and is playing 13:17 per game. When he’s on the ice 5v5, the Oilers score 45% of the goals. Caggulia has 254 draws taken and won 39.4%.
    Hendricks has 40 games played, and 7 5v5 points in 10:52 per game. When he’s on the ice, the Oilers score 48% of the goals. Hendricks has 219 draws taken and won 57.1%.
    In 22 games, Lander has 4 points 5v5 and is playing 9:46 per game. When he’s on the ice, the Oilers score 50% of the goals. Lander has 141 draws taken and won 56.0%.

    Lander is a clear upgrade on both Hendricks and Caggulia and it’s amazing to me that neither Chiarelli or McLellan realize this.

  • treblecharger

    When was he ever tried on the first 2 lines?…how do you expect a guy to generate offence and play the same game he does in the AHL when he’s starting in the D zone all the time with wingers that don’t produce much either? I’m not saying the team effed up, I’m saying they saw him as one kind of player when it came to the NHL and he couldn’t overcome that.

  • New decade of dominance

    Him and Pjaarvi-Svensson looked so good. Guess tempering expectations is in order. These guys were projected alot higher than some of our current prospects are now.