Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Anton Lander, Russia Bound

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a report circulating out of Russia that had Anton Lander signing with AK Bars as soon as the NHL season was over. This morning, that transaction became official.

My initial reaction to this news is that we should have all seen it coming and shame on you if you didn’t. Okay, so maybe that was a little bit harsh. I’m sorry. Anyway, it had to be frustrating for Lander to be god-like at the AHL level, but unable to get much of anything going in the NHL. It’s like landing a date with Miranda Kerr, having it go reasonably well, thinking you’re going score, and then she lets you know that her boyfriend is the guy that invented Snapchat and that you should use the new filters. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be so close yet so so far.

In February, friend of the Nation, Uffe Bodin interviewed Lander about the frustration that was mounting with the constant yoyoing between Bakersfield and Edmonton. Lander struggled to describe how he felt about the season, what exactly happened to get him to that point, and where he fit in with the organization. If nothing else, Bodin’s interview showed that Lander likely already knew that his time with the Oilers was over. That tenure officially ended with his signing a contract with AK Bars in the KHL, a move that seems to be the worst kept secret of Lander’s career.

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It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this one: Lander is one of the guys that I’ve been following since he was drafted back in 2009. I remember reading reports that this kid was captain material, played with grit, and had a decent pair of hands so I took a vested interest in how he was doing. A future captain with hands? After surviving through the Moreau days I have to admit that I was into that idea.

Get ready to watch A LOT of hockey

While it’s not surprising that Lander took off for greener pastures, it is surprising how it happened. I mean, the guy could put up points at will in the AHL but he scored like Stortini for the Oilers. I know there are countless guys that have experienced the same troubles getting to the next level but it still makes you scratch your head, ya know? Actually, Lander kind of reminds me of another guy that used to play in the organization – Alexandre Giroux. That dude had 97 and 100 point seasons in the AHL but could only muster 12 NHL points. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be.

At the end of the day, losing Lander probably won’t mean much in the short or long term but it’s still unfortunate that a guy that’s been developing for eight years is now gone for nothing. I don’t blame Lander for wanting to cash in on some bigger contracts in the KHL, though. The dream to play professional sports has a finite timeline and it makes sense to want to make the most of the opportunity while you still can.

To Anton, I understand why you made the move and I’ll miss you now that you’re gone. Your pirate facial hair and ability to win draws did not go unnoticed around these parts, and we’re going to have to up our game in those departments without you. All the best in Russia and I hope you make many rubles. Adieu.

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Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2011-12 Edmonton Oilers NHL 56 2 4 6 12 -8
2011-12 Oklahoma City Barons AHL 14 1 4 5 10 -1 14 2 2 4 4
2012-13 Oklahoma City Barons AHL 47 9 11 20 22 -1 8 5 3 8 4
2012-13 Edmonton Oilers NHL 11 1 1 2 -4
2013-14 Oklahoma City Barons AHL 46 18 34 52 30 7 3 1 1 2
2013-14 Edmonton Oilers NHL 27 1 1 4 -10
2014-15 Oklahoma City Barons AHL 29 9 22 31 20 8
2014-15 Edmonton Oilers NHL 38 6 14 20 14 -12
2015-16 Edmonton Oilers NHL 61 1 2 3 18 -9
2016-17 Edmonton Oilers NHL 22 1 3 4 6 2
2016-17 Bakersfield Condors AHL 42 25 30 55 14 20
NHL Totals   215 10 25 35 56
Edmonton Oilers Ethan Bear and Patrick Russell skate at Rogers Place


  • SourGrapes

    Rupees? I think you mean rubles. Unless the recent shakeup of the KHL meant moving teams to India…
    I wonder whether a guy like Lander really didn’t have the skillset or whether he came into this organization at a time where we seemed to do more harm than good to our prospects. Either way – a shame to lose him and best of luck.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    They should have dressed Lander in Playoffs rather than EBS. IF so, there’s no doubt that they would have made the conference finals. How are people still saying Ebs helps this team? I think he punched his ticket out of town with the infamous Anahiem board play(s) leading to a goal. Antonio Lander, we Speak your name. Take Ebs with you to Mother Russia.

    • AJ88

      You and your alter egos Spydr and Batman are so one dimensional in your thinking. Yep, Lander has cleared waivers how many times? Probably would have won the next 6 cups if he was in the lineup. You guys need to move on to something else, like new medication.

      • Bagged Almond Milk

        Eberle directly cost them a few goals and didn’t score or contribute to any in the playoffs. The difference between winning and losing that series was 1 or 2 goals. No defensive lapse = conference finals. It’s not rocket surgery Rick.

      • I am Batman

        Do you even know what an “alter ego” is or you just saw that in the cover of one of mommy’s magazines?

        Anyways, who gives a crap about Lander, god speed, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

        And for my fans: can you try to take Ebs with you? Not sure they want him in Russia but who knows, weirder things have happened

  • ubermiguel

    That “decent pair of hands” simply never showed up in the NHL. Predicting the success of teenage hockey players is such a crap shoot. Best of luck Anton, I hope you win many championships and have a good time playing in the KHL.

  • Space Pants

    I too remember having high hopes for his potential along with Paajarvi, but those were dark days where we were hoping for anything.

    I also thought this decision was all about family stability for him and not money. He doesn’t like being away from his wife and baby, so he left them in Sweden this year due to his steady diet of call-ups/demotions.

    Good for him and wish him the best of luck.

  • Garnett

    Good luck Lander. Even though the results weren’t what we all hoped for in the NHL, I always appreciated the effort you put in. Both here and the AHL. Being sent up and down, always professional about it. Again, best of luck to you and your family. I’ll look forward to you lighting your stick on fire and going top shelf.

    • Timmah007

      I wonder if it had more to do with the quality of players the oilers were able to surround him with rather than his foot speed or ability to think the game at a high enough speed. He is a bottom six player no doubt but oilers bottom six over those years well they sucked…

  • Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89

    Tbh, aside from that one game in the playoffs where desharnais was a hero…

    I really wish Lander was tagged in instead. Just imagine though, Davidson would be the one to go in the expansion and the worry of losing Reinhardt would be non existent.

    I’m sad to see Lander go

  • Mcjesuslaz

    Who really cares if they take Reinhardt and that we lost a few picks it’s not the end of the world Reinhardt is a terrible player and I don’t see him playing in our top 4 and even on a third pair he would be mediocre

  • Stranger-danger!

    It’s a pity the Oilers couldn’t find a spot for him in the lineup. How he was used by the Oilers always seemed strange to me, as he may have struggled putting the puck in, but he seemed to at least be an equal-or-superior-to level replacement for a few of our bottom 6 players, and could potentially (not ideally) play up the lineup. At the very least he I’d have thought him good enough to land a roster spot somewhere in the NHL, maybe in exchange for a low pick or as part of a larger deal. Maybe he looked better to my eye than he actually was? I dunno, it just seems bizarre. I wish him the best of luck.

  • nova_scoilers_tia

    I’d say that he fits the definition of “tweener” to a tee: he’s dominating in a lesser league and treading water in a better one. If only there was a league somewhere in between… Plutocratic drive-on-the-sidewalk @[email protected], questionable canned meats, and jet crashes aside, I think the KHL is where the guy belongs.

  • Oil DAWG

    Can’t blame him on this one…always bouncing can’t be good on your mental health. He was given a lot of chances to grab and keep a spot. Sadly no coaches thought he could hang with the big club for long. This should bring him some stability and maybe he will become a superstar there!!!

  • toprightcorner

    Lander is a great person, a better character and the type of guy every locker room wants. Unfortunately, he is slow.

    I see him as a Patrick Thorensen. When he went to the KHL, he became a top 10 scorer. He always had skill, he just couldn’t skate. The bigger ice and slower league of the KHL doesn’t require you to have speed to be successful.

    I could easily see Lander in the top 20 of scoring in the KHL and having a very good career making a decent dollar. I wish him all the success in the world, he deserves it.

  • Timmah007

    Lander reminded me of horcoff. Had great personality an under valued leadership quality about him. Can win a faceoff and never took a shift off always gave it his all.. Good luck lander!!!