Anton Lander might be the most baffling prospect in the Oilers’ system. He found another level offensively in the American League in 2013-14, but continued to post Jean-Francois Jacquesian scoring totals when promoted to the majors. What’s going on?
A look at his situational statistics is illuminating.

The Splits

The Oklahoma City Barons’ power play was lethal in 2013-14, finishing third overall in the AHL. Lander was both driver and beneficiary, and by my count he recorded more than half of his offence with the man advantage:
  • Power play: 10 goals, 17 assists, 27 points
  • Other situations: Eight goals, 17 assists, 25 points
Thanks to that power play push, Lander topped the point-per-game mark in the minors for the first time in his career. The obvious problem is that however good he is on an AHL power play, Lander is not likely to see significant minutes in that role in the majors (though Dallas Eakins gave him a push in the latter half of last season).
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Does that mean we should disregard his impressive numbers and get set for more major-league impotence?

Trudging 

The short answer is ‘no’ (well, actually it’s ‘probably not’ but I’m trying not to hedge here).
What we want to see is progression, and if we isolate Lander’s non-power play numbers it becomes evident that even without the power play window dressing the player took major strides last year:
  • 2011-12: 14 games, five points (0.357 points per game/29-point pace)
  • 2012-13: 47 games, 16 points (0.340 points per game/28-point pace)
  • 2013-14: 46 games, 25 points (0.543 points per game/45-point pace)
What we have here is a picture of steady progression. 2012-13 was a bit of a special year because of the NHL lockout, and Lander took a major leap forward after it ended – fully three-quarters of his points came after January 1 and he was a point-per-game guy in the postseason that year.
That 45-point pace line might not sound especially good, but with the power play results filtered out it’s actually quite decent. For the sake of comparison, Jordan Eberle had 44 non-power play points in the NHL last year; David Perron had 43.
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Stripping away the power play numbers tells us that Lander’s offensive totals in the AHL are a little misleading. But focusing in solely on his even-strength totals tells us this guy has the necessary tools to score at a high level in the second-best league in North America. At some point, he’s bound to figure it out in the majors, and he’s very likely to get a shot at doing so this season. Of course, if he can’t figure it out this time around there probably won’t be another.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS