This is Anton Lander. Among the stories we’ll be following from Oklahoma City this fall, Lander will be the most important. His scouting report is unique–a good thing for any prospect–because the defensive side of the game is featured strongly. In looking through draft history, very few quality prospects began their careers with such a strong defensive reputation.
Even the NHL checkers were mostly scorers who learned how to play away from the puck in the American League, in Europe or from the 4th line/depth position at the NHL level.
- Jarret Stoll, #36 in 2002 (515 NHL games).
- Marc Pouliot, #22 in 2003 (179 NHL games).
- Riley Nash, #21 in 2007.
- Anton Lander, #40 in 2009.
That’s two first rounders and a pair of high second rounders on players who projected as less than top flight offensive players on their draft day (Stoll was 20 so skews the situation, but his scouting reports from 2000–I have them–suggest a 2-way center). Four of 17 top 50 picks (23.5%) in an 8 year period were spent trying to solve the problem of two-way center.
The three men who came before Lander all played some in the AHL before establishling themselves in the NHL (Nash is TBD):
- Stoll: 76, 21-33-54 .711
- Pouliot: 98, 29-47-76 .776
- Nash: 79, 14-18-32 .405
In looking back at both Stoll and Pouliot it’s important to remember that they played on “shared” teams during their AHL careers. Stoll was on a deep Hamilton Bulldog team (Habs-Oil) and Pouliot spent time with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pens-Oil) early in his career. Their boxcars probably improved based on the quality of team.
Among the forwards who may line up for Oklahoma City in the fall, here are their NHL equivalencies:
- Anton Lander (SEL) 14-20-34
- Tanner House (NCAA) 10-24-34
- Curtis Hamilton (WHL) 10-23-33
- Mark Arcobello (AHL) 15-16-31
- Lennart Petrell (SML) 10-18-28
- Ryan Keller (AHL) 17-10-27
- Hunter Tremblay (CIS) no equivalency
- Tyler Pitlick (WHL) 12-15-27
- Josh Green (AHL) 8-17-25
- Teemu Hartikainen (AHL) 10-13-23
- Toni Rajala (SML) 9-13-22
- Antti Tyrvainen (SML) 12-8-20
- Ryan O’Marra (AHL) 1-14-15
- Milan Kytnar (AHL) 6-8-14
- Phil Cornet (AHL) 4-10-14
- Chris VandeVelde (AHL) 7-2-9
- Cameron Abney (WHL) 3-5-8
We don’t know about the roles these forwards will play, but I would guess that Lander would be a starting center along with O’Marra, House, VandeVelde and perhaps Kytnar. Based on his NHLE (impressive), his SEL experience and where we might expect him to slot in on the depth chart, I’m bullish on Lander as an AHL rookie.
Lander is outside the current NHL depth chart if you include RNH (and most are at this time). My guess is that the Oilers will want him to spend most of the season in the AHL this season, learning the NA game in the AHL. Injuries might blow the lid off these projections but remember they are called “reasonable expectations” because the line in the sand should be exactly that: reasonable.
OKC Prediction for 11-12: 51gp, 16-20-36 (.706)
NHL Prediction for 11-12: 16gp, 1-3-4 (.250)
- Anything else? In his first 42 games this past season, Lander was cruising (9-14-23 -4) but his final 7 games (2-1-3 -9) were part of a team free fall that saw Timra lose a playoff spot. I don’t know what happened but it put a damper on a quality season.
- What about faceoffs? He’s been under 50% in the SEL but I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad total for a teenager in a man’s league. Intuition leads one to believe it’s a good number but we’ll see beginning in the fall. He was close to 50% this past season.
- Why is your AHL projection for Lander so low? He should be much higher. You’ve made a mistake in the math. Among the C’s drafted by the Oilers in the last decade with a similar skill set, Pouliot and Stoll performed better and Nash performed poorly based on expectations. Lander is probably not projected as a front line scorer in OKC (although we don’t really know the role planned for him). I think it’s reasonable to project that he’s going to get very secondary (or worse) PP time and a lot of PK time, especially considering that the Stoll and Pouliot seasons came on deep clubs (and they were part of the offensive solution).
- You hate him. No, I don’t. I’m cheering like hell for him. There’s also some question about the quality of this year’s OKC team. They are going to be very young and extremely thin in goal. I think my projection for him at the AHL level is reasonable based on his age, projected role, quality of team and his player type.
- Haters gonna hate. Good grief. I’m not saying he isn’t a talented player, but I do believe that his road will be more difficult (offensively) than someone like Paajarvi. Last summer, we established that MP’s NHLE was 82, 16-22-38 and he came in at 80, 15-19-34. That’s pretty close. If Lander was looking at a similar path (NHL opening night, 1100 EV minutes and another 150 PP minutes) then I think it would be easier to predict. However, I’m not certain Lander is going to get 15.5 minutes a night in the AHL this season. If he does, the PK minutes are likely to outnumber the PP minutes.
- What would Lander’s AHLE be for this season based on his 10-11 SEL season? With an NHLE of 82, 14-20-34 (.415) that would work out to about 82gp, 31-44-75 (.914) if my math is correct. I worked it backwards using (.45) as the AHL number for his equivalency.
- So you’ve nicked him about about 11 points? Yeah, because we don’t know what situations he’ll be playing in. I think the Oilers will use Lander in a fashion that will be similar to how he’s used when graduating to the NHL. Because of it, the offense may not be there as much as the NHLE suggests.
- That’s WAY too harsh! Reasonable must mean something different in your world. The highest scoring AHL rookie last season was Luke Adam (62 points in 57 games). If Lander posted those numbers as an AHL rookie I would be thrilled, but it’s beyond “reasonable.” His SEL suggests that he’ll score well in the AHL, but I don’t think he’ll get as many at-bats.
- His TOI wasn’t that much in the SEL. Based on what I can find at the SEL website, Lander was 26th among forwards in the entire league last season in total TOI. He led all Timra forwards with a total of 898 minutes on ice although they quote it in seconds (cool). I don’t have the EV/PK/PP breakdown but he played a lot and I don’t think we can reasonably say that he’ll lead OKC in TOI.
- You’re way wrong. He’ll post close to a point per game in the AHL and be in the NHL by Christmas. Great! But is that a reasonable projection? I’m projecting him to have a superior season to Teemu Hartikainen’s a year ago and that is reflecting their respective NHLE’s. The reason I took points from him is based not on ability but role and time on ice in specific situations. He’s a very good prospect at .706 ppg in the AHL. If he approaches 1.00ppg at age 20 we’re talking about something above that level. I think the projection is reasonable.
- Do you really like him? I think he’s unique. That alone means I like him and if he can deliver offensively and cover the scouting report in terms of 2-way play then this is a guy who can help win games for years. I have Lander just below the Hall, Eberle, MP, RNH group as a forward prospect and because of his range of skills he could do as much or more than some of them to help win games. If he’s Don Luce I’m over the moon. If he’s Doug Jarvis I’m still damn happy. We need more answers before we get too excited, though. Does he have the range of skills boasted by Luce? Is he so good the offense isn’t as important ala Doug Jarvis? Don’t know. Finding reasonable with this player is a difficult job based on what we know.