Photo courtesy Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved. Anton Lander struggled last season, as the Oilers and Tom Renney kept running him out there in a league he was unprepared to conquer. This season, Lander’s slot on the OKC depth chart has been a moving target and most recently he’s suffered from food poisoning.
In a recent report card entry, Jonathan Willis had this to say about the young Swede:
- Anton Lander: C- (6GP – 0G – 0A – 0PTS, +2). The only other forward on the team without a point is Cameron Abney. Lander hasn’t even been particularly noticeable offensively, despite generally playing on good lines. Six shots through six games isn’t nearly enough in the AHL, even for a primarily defensive center.
I think its important to talk about last season a little before embarking on the rest of this year. Lander’s NHL season in 11-12 was a disaster offensively and at evens, but he did help on the PK as stated by our friend dawgbone:
- dawgbone: Despite all his struggles at 5 on 5, he had a simply fantastic season killing penalties. He played a touch under 2 minutes per game 4 vs 5 and was behind Petrell, Smyth and Horcoff in terms of shot prevention on the PK. These are not easy minutes and Lander was able to contribute to a decent PK group. His biggest problem at the NHL level has been his in ability to keep the puck out of his own end, but that’s not just his fault.
- is he going to score enough? These all leather, no wood types need to score a little just to stay in the lineup. That was the problem for a brilliant winger decades ago named Bill Lesuk. Lesuk was such a good penalty killer and shadow for opponents that he actually had a fairly long career. Teams would flush him from time to time in search of offense, but he’d always get another gig. A journeyman, they used to call them.
I think we need to keep in mind the defensive resume has already shown a little, even at a young age. However, you have to hit above a certain level (baseball calls it the ‘Mendoza’ line after Mario Mendoza) in order to play as a regular. That’s the question we have about Anton Lander. He had one season in the SEL (at 19) that suggested he could cash enough to be a big part of the team, and before that was a teenager building towards it.
Last season the poor kid was a deer in the headlights and now this season he’s wobbly. I don’t blame Lander, we saw glimpses of defensive ability and knew about the offensive issues. This is an organizational issue: get him healthy, feed him food that isn’t contaminated, find him two veterans, play him every night and give him 500 at-bats.
And if someone in management suggests a callup to Edmonton, then call in Vincent and Jules. Winston Wolf too if it starts getting a little bloody.
Anton Lander could be a useful player, the Oilers need to find out. They’ve been wasting time.