Not So Fast!

The buzz started mid-week and by Saturday morning enough people said something within earshot often enough for me to notice: Anton Lander’s skating has improved markedly. Lander is an interesting prospect on all kinds of levels. Most of the players who emerge at the NHL level as two-way types started their hockey careers as the best offensive forwards on their teams. Since he was drafted, the scouting report on Lander always takes a paragraph or two in order to explain his play away from the puck. Abnormal. Squared.

  • Stu MacGregor earlier this week: “His effort is so consistent, every shift. The best way to put it is he works smart. He’s really intelligent, good on ­faceoffs. That really stood out for us. His skating may have held him back from being a first-round pick, but it’s improved.” Article is here.

So I had enough ammo to ask a couple of guests on the Nation Radio show yesterday about him. Both Bruce McCurdy and Steve Serdachny raved about him, and his improvement year over year as a skater was obvious to everyone.

  • McCurdy: Lander might be on the fast track up (to Edmonton). He showed a new level of speed that was missing last year. There was one play where he just turned it up a notch, and he just turned it on and was gone. It was an unexpected burst from that player.
  • Serdachny: Anton has had incredible development. He’s made incredible strides in his skating and his quickness, he has so many great intangible qualities and a fantastic individual. Foot speed, mobility, efficiency have been a part of his program and something he’s been working on. This guy is a dedicated learner and working hard to become an Edmonton Oiler.

You never know with kids, but Lander has impressed pretty much everyone he’s come in contact with; better to bet on a guy who works hard (and lacks top end skill) than a guy who owns the world but doesn’t have the work habits. Anton Lander may push at training camp, and he’s certainly on track as an NHL prospect based on the latest available information.

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