EDMONTON OILERS: CAN ANTON LANDER BE REPAIRED? | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


There was a time that Anton Lander was thought to be a bonafide NHL third-line center. Spending years in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons, Lander took the long developmental road not often taken by Edmonton Oiler prospects. He struggled, worked on his game, found success under coach Todd Nelson and was called up to the bigs and showed well.

Photo By Bridget Samuels

The Good

In the 2013-14 and 2014-15 AHL seasons, Lander was starting to earn praise for his leadership (was named captain), his talent in all situations and his on-ice results. He had 52 points in 46 games, followed up by 31 points in 29 games. Lander followed Nelson up to the Oilers mere weeks after Nelson had been promoted and the result was 20 points in 38 games — he looked like the real deal. He was signed to a two-year extension.

The Bad

Over that summer, Nelson was let go and replaced by Todd McLellan. Lander hasn't come close to producing the same results since. Under McLellan, Lander scored a single goal in 61 games. He added two assists and spent a great deal of time watching from the press box, essentially killing any credibility he had built up in four prior seasons of hard work.

But who is Anton Lander? Is he the player who dominated in the AHL and came up to score 20 points in 38 games? Or, is he the player who had one goal in 61 games, a CF% of 47.3 and had next to no chemistry with the teammates he played most often with last season?

The Indifferent

Honestly, I don't think it matters. Whether Lander is as poor a player as his results showed last season, it wasn't pretty for Lander in 2015-16. Of the 378 forwards who played more than 400 minutes, Lander ranked 375th in points-per-60. This is enough when you combine his spot on the depth chart to realize, Lander's last chance may have come and gone. He may not get another opportunity under McLellan because the Oilers simply can't afford to make costly mistakes or lose games at this stage in the game.

Lander has two saving graces — injury and the fact Edmonton did not sign another center over the summer. If the Oilers find themselves in trouble due to a lack of center depth, Lander could get a chance, but on a short leash. If he can't bounce back and resemble anything close to the player he was in 2014-15, Lander will see the box or be given a ticket out of town.

He should have better players surrounding him, as the overall depth is improved, but Lander needs to figure it out and in a hurry. His window is closing and opportunities to bury ten-bell chances won't be afforded to him more than once. Whether or not Lander can be repaired is a good question. Almost as important is where he'll get the chance to make those repairs.

My guess is Lander has the stuff to be a better than good pro hockey player. I just have this feeling he won't be proving it in Edmonton. For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.


  1. Hi Jim - I agree with your assessment - there is just something about Lander that I have liked as a player; and, I think he is lots better than he has shown over the past two years. I hope he gets more work - and does well - there is something honest about him as a player that I have always liked.


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