#11 PROSPECT (winter 2012): ANTON LANDER

Anton Lander’s time in North America has been trying for him, the Oilers and the fanbase. The Oilers elevated the young center to the NHL long before he was ready based on an impressive summer and training camp. When the mistake became apparent, the organization failed to do what needed to be done, and in keeping him in the NHL set back Lander’s development timeline. Now, we’re left to wonder what could have been while also looking for signs of recovery.

(photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).

The trouble for Lander started as an extreme positive. Anton Lander–center prospect–had improved his foot speed markedly.

  • Oilers Skating and Skills Coach Steve 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.
  • Stu MacGregor at summer camp: “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.”
Lander arrived at camp and kept impressing the coaching staff and the fanbase. His quick step forward meant he was in the mix for an NHL job at center; when Sam Gagner was injured late September it was Lander who won the 4line job for the Oilers. It pushed him past Brule, O’Marra and VandeVelde.
Summer 2012: #7
Winter 2012: #11
Pre-Draft
Bob McKenzie: HM; ISS: 47;Redline: 54
  • Bob McKenzie: Lander is a two-way checking forward with excellent outside speed. He can make plays at full speed and controls the puck with a lot of confidence. A very unselfish player, Lander is always aware of where his teammates are and makes good crisp passes. He is a hard working forechecker, keeping his feet moving all the time. With a strong quick release wrist shot, he often uses d-men as a screen off the offensive rush. Lander drives the net hard with and without the puck and doesn’t quit on the puck until the whistle goes. Reliable and disciplined, he brings a consistent effort to the rink every game and always improves his team’s chances of winning a game. Will adapt and play any role given by coach.”
  • ISS:Lander is a two-way checking forward with excellent outside speed. He can make plays at full speed and controls the puck with a lot of confidence. A very unselfish player, Lander is always aware of where his teammates are and makes good crisp passes. He is a hard working forechecker, keeping his feet moving all the time. With a strong quick release wrist shot, he often uses d-men as a screen off the offensive rush. Lander drives the net hard with and without the puck and doesn’t quit on the puck until the whistle goes. Reliable and disciplined, he brings a consistent effort to the rink every game and always improves his team’s chances of winning a game. Will adapt and play any role given by coach.”
  • Stu MacGregor: “Very excited about Anton. He’s a player we look at as a potential second-line centre with for sure third-line ability. He’s a great faceoff man, competitive at both ends of the ice. Smart, captain of the Swedish under-18 team. All of our interviews with all of the Swedish players this past year, everybody spoke extremely high of him. Their leader was Anton Lander.”

Anton Lander wasn’t ready, and Anton Lander should have been sent down to OKC before the final cuts. Tom Renney paid for last season’s sins with his job, and one suspects the handling of Lander was part of the package.

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.62 (14th and last among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: nil
  • Qual of Comp: 12th out of 14 forwards (ahead of Eager and Hordichuk)
  • Qual Comp: 12th toughest faced among forwards
  • Qual Team: 12th best available teammates among forwards
  • Corsi Rel: -11.3 (13th best among forwards)
  • Zone Start: 52.2% (6th easiest among forwards)
  • Zone Finish: 45.1% (12th best among regular forwards)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 54/3.7% (10th best among F’s>50 shots)
  • Boxcars: 56, 2-4-6
  • Plus Minus: -8 on a team that was -26

There was a positive in there, and credit to our friend dawgbone for finding it.

  • 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.

#11 ranked prospects on December lists:

  • December 2004: L Tony Salmelainen
  • December 2005: D Bryan Young
  • December 2006: G Jeff Deslauriers
  • December 2007: D Theo Peckham
  • December 2008: D Taylor Chorney
  • December 2009: D Johan Motin
  • December 2010: G Devan Dubnyk
  • December 2011: D Colten Teubert
  • December 2012: C Anton Lander

 

And just a few days before this series got into gear, the first signs of sunshine after the rain appeared on the horizon. The line of Anton Lander, Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi hasn’t been together long, but there does seem to be chemistry in the group. Now, they’re not scoring goals but do have the puck headed in the right direction. Sure it’s the AHL, but I think we can agree this year’s AHL is extra difficult and that the best minor league in the world is pretty damn tough in normal times. It is the first good sign for Anton Lander in quite a long time, a spark and the hint of a flame.

Here’s hoping it sets the woods on fire.

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43 Responses to "#11 PROSPECT (winter 2012): ANTON LANDER"

  1. oilgreg says:

    It seems to me that the people commenting on this site are a little too critical in regards to Lander. What I see is a smooth-skating smart hockey player; someone who understands zone coverage and who at worst has the potential to be an upgrade at third-line centre (currently occupied by Horcoff).

  2. Lowetide says:

    OilGreg: I think most people feel that’s exactly what he is, but there’s also a feeling (at least by me) that the Oilers can’t get out of their own damn way on these guys. What would have been the crime in elevating VandeVelde a year ago? Let Lander play in the minors and push his way into the league.

    One of the most NHL ready players I’ve ever seen is a guy named Pierre Mondou. Habs drafted him in 1975 and he played in the AHL for two years (scoring 34 then 44 goals) before arriving as a pretty complete hockey player two years later.

    Four years later, EXACTLY THE SAME THING with Guy Carbonneau. Two years in the minors, and then he arrives ready to help.

    Red Wings do that today.

    I’m not saying keep Hall in junior, or Nuge, or Yak, but for crying out loud there was no hurry on Lander. None. at all.

  3. PaperDesigner says:

    The frustrating thing is that this isn’t a player who had good junior numbers, then simply had the wheels fall off in the transition to the pro game. He was already an accomplished two-way centre in Sweden’s pro league before coming here. His NHLE was north of thirty, for crying out loud. What happened?

    One has to wonder if this is simply a player who lost his mental edge when he was pushed too far along too quickly. If this player doesn’t make it, I am going to be perturbed with this organization. Even moreso than now.

  4. RexLibris says:

    The Vande Velde over Lander idea is one I was in favour of at the beginning of training camp.
    I understand wanting to promote based on merit, but the young man had just come over and the risk of derailing his development was too great. Vande Velde is now the majority of what he will become as a pro player. Elevating him to the NHL ahead of Lander was the smart move from the very beginning.

    The coaching staff spoke at length about removing the stigma of assignment to OKC, then betray that with their own actions by refusing to move a player when it is so obviously in his best long-term interests.

    The Red Wings comparison – bang on. They don’t screw these things up. Then the rest of the league looks at them in awe.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Paper Designer: Agree completely. There was no reason to push him–they already had RNH playing center as a rookie. And THEN when he went a long period not getting production, they STILL didn’t send him out. I think there had to be a disconnect.

  6. Lois Lowe says:

    I don’t know if I am buying the whole ‘delayed his development timeline’ narrative to be honest. NHLE’s are just lines in the sand and he had never played North American pro hockey before; who’s to say that he would have scored any more upon going to OKC at the start of last season? I don’t think he’s ever going to be a scorer, but I think he’ll hit over 200 games in his career.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Kellen Jones scored tonight for Quinnipiac.

    Lois Lowe: He certainly has to deliver more offense, no doubt.

  8. godot10 says:

    PaperDesigner:
    The frustrating thing is that this isn’t a player who had good junior numbers, then simply had the wheels fall off in the transition to the pro game. He was already an accomplished two-way centre in Sweden’s pro league before coming here. His NHLE was north of thirty, for crying out loud. What happened?

    One has to wonder if this is simply a player who lost his mental edge when he was pushed too far along too quickly. If this player doesn’t make it, I am going to be perturbed with this organization. Even moreso than now.

    What the hell happened? Magnus Paajarvi is a really good match for Anton Lander, in that Paajarvi is strong, at skating at lugging the puck, where Lander is weak. Renney played Lander with two absolute stiffs…some combination of Eager, Hordichuk, and Petrell, which was beyond moronically stupid.

    There is nothing particularly wrong with Lander. Between Paajarvi and Hartikainen, he should be a really solid AHL line capable of taking on anyone. Hopefully, they can keep that line together, as it should get Lander back on track offensively. We can forget about 2nd line upside for Lander though. It will be third line at best.

  9. loosemoose says:

    Didn’t think I’d say this, but I miss Quinn and Debrusk.

    Watching Rochester v Toronto, and I had to put it on mute. Joe Bowen and his donkey sidekick are painful to listen to……

    On Lander, I’m not to worried. Swedes always seem to take a couple years to adjust.

    I think he will be a Dave Bolland type. Man, that would be sweet.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Loose: I was very high, like ganja high, on Lander. I can’t figure out the gulf between sEL and his NA performance, but would love to see this pick (and Paajarvi) work out. Its like playing crib and getting 6,7,8 J, Q, K. you should at least get “8″ points but you need a little luck.

  11. Lowetide says:

    Zharkov out with a hand injury.

  12. Bruce McCurdy says:

    I’ve been watching most of the Barons games, & the Lander-Paajarvi duo always looks … competent. They play a decent all-ice game and get the puck going the right way more often than not, but unless they ever figure out how to put the biscuit in the basket once in a while, they’re going to be on the fringes. 2 goals in 20 games for Magnus, 1 in 16 for Anton, which is an NHLE of about 0 and 0 respectively. That’s a concern, no two ways about it.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Khaira 1-1-2 tonight. Young man has some nice things.

  14. spoiler says:

    This the guy I had 10. Despite his struggles in The Show, to me he looks like an intelligent player with a high compete level. He could use 10 lbs and some strength gains… or an extra half-step of speed, but I do love what’s between his ears.

  15. spoiler says:

    Rieder’s x-rays came back negative. But he’s in a walking boot and will miss at least a couple of games.

  16. DeadmanWaking says:

    Staples is over at /cult-of-hockey-4 sticking up for a notorious 15 minute serial offender (plus one lingerie misconduct) for “providing her male fans with what they are absolutely wired to enjoy”. But then he doesn’t skate into the tough areas to continue the puck battle by taking a stance on whether young women are “wired to provide”. Uh, I mean “wired to provide what men are wired to enjoy”. No. “Wired to display what men are wired to enjoy.” There. When you skate into the tough areas, you have to keep your verb chest high.

    I’m in the middle of a slow read of Thinking Fast and Slow. Evaluation of Lander’s progression is practically a case study in the retrospective biases of judgment that Kahneman studies.

    In the Israeli military they give a bunch of recruits a difficult task: a long log and six foot fence. Everybody needs to cross the fence without anything touching the fence at all. Not the log. Not the corner of some wrist bone. Failure usually occurs during the last-man phase when the burly guys are all over to the other side, and they hoist the pole over the fence for some skinny guy to jump up and straddle, then shimmy across. It’s a very heavy tightrope suspended from one end by grumpy thick-necks. Every time they mess up, it’s back to start over again. Failure to self-report a transgression, if noticed by Dr Bellows and his men with the stopwatches, would constitute an epic CLM. The idea is to figure out which team members have leadership potential and which don’t. The starchy observers easily form strong opinions and rough consensus, yet after assessing these men all the way through training these guesses prove no better than a random coin. Even after Dr Bellows is told his reports are worthless, he goes back to his observation post and experiences exactly the same (worthless) conviction he felt before.

    Development at the NHL level is an inherently chancy business. Whenever this kind of process is studied, the human propensity is to invent stories of fragility, setback, recovery, and spurts of progress. I’ve always been reluctant to take these stories at face value, yet I don’t discount them completely. After reading these chapters, when given a strong opinion by a thoughtful die-hard, I’d multiply the coefficient of correlation by about 0.3 to estimate the likelihood of Jeannie hanging around once Dr Bellows enters the building.

    The other part I struggle with is how you go from being the Red Queen franchise where you’re running as fast as you can (“If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”) to departing the astral plane and obtaining the transcendent calm of Motown clockwork without a transition phase in which circumstantial logic overrules exalted norms.

    Our management group played the “chemistry together” card and now we have Justin Schultz. Coincidence? Hard to say. It seems that Lander had at least one discipline where he held his own at this level (and not an easy one) so that should have provided his self-esteem a safe harbour as he struggled to carry weak linemates in his regular shift, while his back was covered by men with no keel and not much ballast. Weebles with happy feet. Now we have Yakupov. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

    I don’t get the rationale for keeping Lander up as long as they did. There’s a lot going on between the coaches and players that never leaks into the news. A manager (or a coach) all of whose decisions make perfect sense when viewed from outside the black box risks being automated out of a job. That’s following, not leading. Whenever I’ve approached a competent person juggling a difficult problem, I’ve discovered pronto that the the puzzle pieces have far more burrs than one perceives from the middle distance. Sometimes experts get too caught up trying to mesh the hidden burrs. There’s another whole chapter on expert over-confidence, not to mention another whole book I’ve been reading on when people are outperformed by algorithms after all. This is hard stuff.

    I figure there’s a nub of truth to this OTC consensus (old time critic) on Lander’s mismanagement, but it’s a small nub and I don’t see it myself and my natural inclination is to write is off as a transition cost in trying to get the operation over the six foot fence that separates the Red Queen school of management from Motown clockwork.

    And it was all going so well until a $6 million wrist bone knocked a cinder block clean off the top of the fence. When Dr Bellows is blowing his whistle to call in the fence repair crew before you line up to try it again, it’s pretty damn embarrassing in front of the other training groups casting glances off to the side. Now there’s a setback we can all agree on.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Dillon Simpson with a goal and 6 SOG tonight.

  18. spoiler says:

    Lowetide:
    Dillon Simpson with a goal and 6 SOG tonight.

    Now that’s a good game. His biggest arrow in my opinion is his age. Some of the NCAA fellows we’ve followed over the years, just started their college careers at the age he is now. He could end up being a real sleeper.

  19. jp says:

    spoiler: Now that’s a good game. His biggest arrow in my opinion is his age. Some of the NCAA fellows we’ve followed over the years, just started their college careers at the age he is now. He could end up being a real sleeper.

    That is a nice game. Great to see, and you’re right that his age and solid play against older players is a big plus.

    On that note, it’s so nice to see Khaira doing well for himself this early in his college career. After so many Oilers picks who struggled in college (Hulbig, Winchester, Paukovich, McDonald etc etc) just great to see a forward apparently transition smoothly and overachieve a bit. IF he can keep this up he’ll be a real steal. 18 yo forward with size and strength scoring close to a PPG in the best college league – keep it up Jar Jar!

  20. Oilanderp says:

    Trade Lander for Brodziak! If only we could draft one of those guys…

  21. Marc says:

    Lois Lowe makes a really good point. Whilst it is certainly possible to demonstrate that a prospect wasn’t ready for the NHL when they made the team by reference to their corsi numbers or scoring chance differential – Lander and Smid being good examples – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually demonstrate how exactly this hurts their development. Or how not playing in the NHL would have been better for their development. What exactly are we basing these assertions on? How do you compare the effect of going to the NHL and struggling to an alternate reality where the player stayed in the AHL?

    There are plenty of players who steadily progress through college/junior and then through the AHL, who don’t get any traction at the NHL level. You could argue that their teams have hurt their development by not challenging them with top level competition until it was too late. There seems to me to be as much evidence for this assertion ie. none, as there is for the opposite one, that teams hurt a prospect’s development by putting them in the NHL too soon.

  22. Lowetide says:

    Well if you believe a player at 20 still has the capacity to learn and his brain can re-wire itself to adapt to new challenges (and I do), then Lander’s 20 year old season was spent skating 500 minutes at even strength in pursuit of the puck–mostly in his own end.

    I don’t think you learn a lot doing that, unless you needed to prove a love for the game (after all, who wants to do that for 20 years, no matter the payment?).

    db did an excellent job of pointing out some PK acumen, and I accept that. I’ll also accept he did better at home (+1) where he could be protected as opposed to the road (-9) where he could not.

    I’ve been on the other side of this argument, and of course you can’t prove Lander would have been better off because there’s not a parallel universe where he was sent down in TC to prove the point.

    However, if we can agree that winning organizations never put young prospects in a position to fail, then at the very least we can agree coach Renney made a misstep.

  23. spoiler says:

    Lowetide:
    Well if you believe a player at 20 still has the capacity to learn and his brain can re-wire itself to adapt to new challenges (and I do), then Lander’s 20 year old season was spent skating 500 minutes at even strength in pursuit of the puck–mostly in his own end.

    I don’t think you learn a lot doing that, unless you needed to prove a love for the game (after all, who wants to do that for 20 years, no matter the payment?).

    db did an excellent job of pointing out some PK acumen, and I accept that. I’ll also accept he did better at home (+1) where he could be protected as opposed to the road (-9) where he could not.

    I’ve been on the other side of this argument, and of course you can’t prove Lander would have been better off because there’s not a parallel universe where he was sent down in TC to prove the point.

    However, if we can agree that winning organizations never put young prospects in a position to fail, then at the very least we can agree coach Renney made a misstep.

    Playing without possession of the puck is playing defense. While that might not be as fun as offense there’s still plenty to learn.

    The +1/-8 ratio is in line with the other kids, and shows that despite the lack of offense there were some good things happening out there. If we look just at those numbers on a team that was out-scored, an acknowledge his defensive role, I’d say the year was a success, given his age and experience. Certainly not crippling.

  24. jp says:

    Well said LT. I’d add though that in largely just chasing the puck for 500 min, a player may well learn that when one does get the puck, it’s best to simply get it off your stick as soon as possible. This isn’t an ideal strategy for producing any offense, and we may be seeing the results of that in Landers game. Of course he might also have learned this playing in the SEL at age 16, or maybe none of this has had any effect on his game. We’ll never know, but that’s what I see when watching Lander play.

  25. Lowetide says:

    This chart
    http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=1534&withagainst=true&season=2011-12&sit=5v5close_f10&type=corsi

    shows that in close games at evens pretty much all of Lander’s teammates performed better without him, and that he was not able to get above .500 with anyone but Sam gagner. Petrell is the one guy who doesn’t perform better and its a marginal difference.

    Here’s Nuge
    http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=1535&withagainst=true&season=2011-12&sit=5v5close_f10&type=corsi

    And there are some players he should stay away from too, although Ebs-Nuge should be welded imo.

    But if you look at Lander-Eager for instance, the veteran winger performed much better without Lander. It was a mistake to keep Lander in the NHL imo, and there’s a lot of evidence from my pov.

  26. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Couple of Lander related thoughts.

    1) I take Lois’ point about questioning expectations regarding Lander’s production/development. I think we can all agree that the expectations (within mgt) were off and they were very, very slow to recognize an undercooked hock of ham.

    I also think LT’s right that the over-long time spent in the NHL didn’t maximize Lander’s development. It left him with limited pairings, TOI, situational play and probably dented his ego.

    But (like Lois) I wonder how much this blunder actually sets Lander back. Maybe we are over compensating for the blunder of the Oil to properly access Lander by over interpreting that blunder and its consequences.

    2) Aside from playing well on the PK, the other thing I noticed about Lander last year and in the two recent AHL games I watched is his “pest” quality. He skates with a kind intensive indifference. He is very feisty and in your face but always seems non-plussed about it (it seems to drive the opposition mad)

    3) Would VDV have been the consensus choice last year to get Lander’s spot? I would have guessed Brule (despite his troubles). My memory of the timeline is probably off (concerning Gagner and Lander)… but could Brule have started the season with the Oil to avoid waivers… or is that a counterfactual fantasy?

    Regardless, assuming no waiver problem would anyone else pitch Brule over VDV?

    4) When is the Oil going to recognize that you need to buy the future? What is the rush with a guy like Lander? Even if he met expectations last year… why force the issue? Especially when you’ve got serviceable Cs in the organization already…

    5) What’s the plagiarism custom for these scouting reports? McKenzie and ISS are verbatim (or near) in several of those sentences… one copied the other. Is that par for the course for these things (some expected norm for intelligence sharing), or is that frowned upon?

  27. PunjabiOil says:

    I think we just have to accept that Lander is just not a very good prospect.

    He never had the offense, and was somewhat overrated by the intangibles.

    Every player is responsible for their own career. Maybe it was the wrong decision to keep Lander in the NHL, but at the same time he showed very little. He was 20 last season – no longer a spring chicken. Further, he has done nothing at the AHL level, both last year and this year, to suggest he’ll be a player at the NHL level.

  28. spoiler says:

    Caitlin Lawes is divine. I wonder if she would consider marrying old, fat, slow, and stupid?

  29. Lowetide says:

    PJ: But that isn’t really true. Lander’s 19 yo SEL season is at the high end of what we might expect from a 3rd line C. He went 49, 11-15-26 (with 1 ppg and 1 shg) in 10-11. That’s a solid number.

  30. spoiler says:

    LT, I’m sorry. Am I missing some logic? Because Eager (et alii) plays better with other players, Lander isn’t learning and harm is being done to his development?

    Doesn’t one actually learn from playing with and against players who are better than oneself? I know that’s who I want to play.

    While you are probably right on Lander hurting the Oil, I seriously have my doubts about his time with the Oil hurting him.

  31. Lowetide says:

    spOILer: I’m from the school that preaches that an organization should never put a player in a position where he’s failing, and if they do, they badly need to get him out of there when the problem is identified. I’m sure others don’t believe that, and as I mentioned above there is no parallel universe to disprove either theory.

    However, Anton Lander’s play this season–and we’re 20 games in now–suggests something happened between his final SEL season and today. Lots of theories, my belief is they mishandled the prospect.

  32. spoiler says:

    Lowetide:
    spOILer: I’m from the school that preaches that an organization should never put a player in a position where he’s failing, and if they do, they badly need to get him out of there when the problem is identified. I’m sure others don’t believe that, and as I mentioned above there is no parallel universe to disprove either theory.

    However, Anton Lander’s play this season–and we’re 20 games in now–suggests something happened between his final SEL season and today. Lots of theories, my belief is they mishandled the prospect.

    Understood. I’m from the school that learning can come from failing, but I get you. And obviously one can’t be so over their head that there’s no chance of success because 1) you’re so far behind the level you’re playing at that you can’t see all the intermediate steps between you and what’s going on around you and 2) basic survival is so much of an issue there’s no time to absorb and think.

    As for this season I wonder though, if we are just falling into the human propensity to find a narrative to fit a perceived pattern.

  33. Lowetide says:

    spoiler: That’s always the concern. How much is genuinely worrying and how much has to do with role. Certainly since he moved to the MP-Harski line things have been going better (although the offense remains unearthed).

  34. spoiler says:

    spoiler:
    Caitlin Lawes is divine. I wonder if she would consider marrying old, fat, slow, and stupid?

    You’d stand a better chance if you could spell her name, dumbass. It’s Kaithlyn.

  35. Marc says:

    LT

    There is a pattern of behaviour that suggests that the Oilers believe that players who will ultimately earn their pay by preventing rather than scoring goals should learn to do so by playing against NHL players instead of the smaller/slower/less talented players they’d be up against in the minors. Smid, Jones, Lander and Petrell are all examples of players who continued to get playing time even though they were obviously over their heads. It certainly seems like the Oilers are willing to accept failure from young defensive players in the short term, presumably because they think it will help teach them to succeed in the future.

    Of course, much like your view that an organization should never put a player in a position where he’s failing, and if they do, they badly need to get him out of there when the problem is identified, there isn’t much in the way of evidence that throwing a player of the deep end actually helps them learn, or helps them learn more quickly. Smid turned into a top 4 shut down D, Jones went from having the worst advanced stats on the team two years ago to being solidly in the middle last season, and Jones, Lander and Petrell were part of an effective penalty kill on an otherwise terrible defensive team, but there is really no way of know whether these things would have happened anyways, or more slowly (or quickly) had these players not been played in the NHL when they were.

    I wonder how much of this approach stems from the fact the Lowe went straight from junior to the NHL? And I wonder if the approach will change when the team is realistically competing for a playoff spot and can’t afford to throw away points the way they did when they had no real prospect of making the playoffs?

  36. Lowetide says:

    Marc: It has to change, you can’t bleed chances and win hockey games.

  37. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Marc:
    LT

    There is a pattern of behaviour that suggests that the Oilers believe that players who will ultimately earn their pay by preventing rather than scoring goals should learn to do so by playing against NHL players instead of the smaller/slower/less talented players they’d be up against in the minors. Smid, Jones, Lander and Petrell are all examples of players who continued to get playing time even though they were obviously over their heads. It certainly seems like the Oilers are willing to accept failure from young defensive players in the short term, presumably because they think it will help teach them to succeed in the future.

    Interesting thought… just wanted to note that Jones and Petrell might not fit the mould you envision… both are past their development stage (unless you grant great latitude to the idea of development).

    But I agree those two were assigned very specific roles on the team and have fulfilled them for the most part…

    In Lander and Smid’s case (we could add Gagner here too if we wanted to expand beyond “defensive players” and just discuss the early years of prospect talent), I think you’ve got to acknowledge that the team is/was still in full “wait, hope and see” mode and has a much less limited vision of where these players might end up.

    Which is to say, the team ought not to have pegged Lander as a defensive specialist (if that’s what they did) and used this thinking to push him into the NHL early.

    (not sure if I’ve made myself clear… )

  38. Henry says:

    Lowetide:
    Marc: It has to change, you can’t bleed chances and win hockey games.

    Lowetide,

    So true. To your earlier point that mishandling Lander contributed to Renney’s demise, I wonder how much of the decisions to keep a given player in the NHL vs AHL are up to the coach. Is it the GM’s decision too?

    I was pleased to be able to watch the Barons up close the past two games and Lander was ok, but just didn’t seem to want to the puck like a driven, aggressive player should on offense. He does piss off the opposition a lot though. Was trying to see why and how, but didn’t see much out of the ordinary.

  39. Oilanderp says:

    Perhaps something happens with Lander with Nuge heading to the WJs?

  40. FastOil says:

    The Zombie (DMW) ;) mentioned burrs not visible from medium distance – not everyone responds to or needs the same stimulus to be challenged or improve.

    It doesn’t seem throwing the Swedes the Oilers have into the deep end works that well for them without the lifeguard pulling them out after a bit and putting them back in lessons for a while before the next toss in.

    I get the feeling that despite the efforts made to provide team resources to prospects, the management needs to develop more of an interest in the person inside the uniform, even if only to preserve the asset.

    Given the random damage and wasted prospects and players over the years, it seems sometimes like they still think in old school NHL ways. Valuable players are pretty hard to come by, especially if expansion happens to offset lock out losses. It might be better to change from thinking rookies need to be hazed and earn their admission into the club, to being more inclusive off the bat and make decisions and provide information based on expectations and available roster spots.

  41. DeadmanWaking says:

    FastOil: Given the random damage and wasted prospects and players over the years, it seems sometimes like they still think in old school NHL ways.

    Zombie. True. I’m one foot in, and one foot out. I show up, post, then disappear again to feed or be fed upon.

    What Kahneman argues is that many of these stories about why these rare and valuable prospects busted out are unreliably retrospective.

    If the team brings one of these junior ringers up slowly, and the player struggles to outperform in the minor leagues, then the retrospective story is that our scouting sucks.

    If we bring the junior ringer straight into the bigs, he falls short, then we dump he back down to the minors where he washes out (looking exactly like the player in the first example) then the retrospective story is that the team has engaged in “old school” asset mismanagement.

    Same player. Same outcome. Different path. Different blame.

    Even with the junior ringers who matter so much to whether a team bridges the gap between pretender and contender, there are plenty who are going to wash out no matter which way you go.

    Let’s say you bring up a defensive guy like Lander right away. His PK is already NHL caliber, and he’s holding his own for a rookie elsewhere on defense. But he doesn’t contribute NHL level offense. He’s a low event rookie, paying his dues making his rookie mistakes.

    Or you condition him in the minors for a year to take more risks on the attack. Then you bring him up as a high event player, putting most of his mental energy into making the grade on the attack. Had you brought him up directly, he’d be a low event sophomore trying to build on his base to press more for offense. Which of these two players helps you win more often in that season? Suppose this is a season where you project the team to legitimately compete for a playoff spot after many years out in the cold. Can you afford to give quality minutes to your high event rookie? Or is it easier to give quality minutes to your low event sophomore whose offensive upside is now a big question mark?

    A team like Detroit that rarely misses the playoffs will probably have enough margin on missing the cut to afford to give their slow-cooked, high event rookie all the minutes his progression requires.

    We haven’t tasted the playoffs for like, who’s counting? New improved retrospective story: we brought the player up right (with a year to mature in the minors) then we let him rot at the end of the bench in the stretch drive where we narrowly missed the playoffs anyway. New blame button: If only we had made an optimal trade in the off season, this sad state of affairs could have been averted.

    Let’s suppose Tambi already knows he’s not going to make an optimal trade in the off season. Hell, he’s had long enough to catch a glimpse of his navel in some reflective surface. He knows he’s nursing his chips for the big score and he suspects it won’t happen for a long time yet. Does he correctly factor this knowledge into his decision to bring Lander up sooner or later? Who gets the blame if the later scenario goes sideways as described (failed stretch drive while Lander rides the pine)? He does.

    Not only that, I suspect it wasn’t completely unforeseeable from Katz’s side of the fence that Lander might get some quality time back in the minors as a matter of Bettman’s sunspot cycle. Had we not given him that NHL experience last season, he might be coming into camp next year with his giant knapsack of rookie brain-farts slung over his shoulder in a year where our nucleus should absolutely be making noise in the stretch drive.

    I can’t see it myself that we’ve played Lander wrong. Omark, on the other hand, was a black comedy of errors. Obviously, if the got Omark wrong without a shadow of a doubt, that should colour our judgment of how they handled Lander, as well.

    Not so fast. Kahneman would raise a red flag here. We’re getting deep into halo effects. Why should we decide management competence by focusing on the worst mistake they’ve made? Because we’re emotionally invested in the story that “they suck”. Why aren’t we judging their competence by their biggest success instead? Who would that even be? Any member of the Pipe line you care to name. But no, the success of these assets (far more valuable than Lander) was 100% built in. Draft, add water, sit back and relax. Part of why Omark got lost in the shuffle is that he was surrounded by too much success. Do you give your more valuable assets the least coaching attention? That system worked great for me in elementary school. I opened my eyes about nine years later, looked around, and asked myself “has anything happened yet?” Damn, I hated how much attention the athletes got for their special talents, when mine got none.

    Of course you can neglect your best talents and let them cruise to super-stardom on their innate ability. Works every time. Sure, it worked for me. One foot in, one foot out. Very clever from a safe distance. Yeah, I’ve matured nicely into the kind of guy who authors a second-rate Portnoy’s Complaint (ouch). I get picked first every time in responsible company.

    No, not in sports at this level are your elite prospects allowed to wander their way into greatness with the least coaching attention. Even if the coach decides to say little or nothing, it still occupies the biggest chunk of his brain. I’m personally not going to judge Lander by Omark when so much went right at the other end of the bell curve.

  42. dessert1111 says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:

    3) Would VDV have been the consensus choice last year to get Lander’s spot? I would have guessed Brule (despite his troubles). My memory of the timeline is probably off (concerning Gagner and Lander)… but could Brule have started the season with the Oil to avoid waivers… or is that a counterfactual fantasy?

    I would have taken O’Marra myself. Seemed to be the best of the four with the qualities the Oilers needed in a 4C: Faceoff acumen, PK ability, defensive awareness and some grit/toughness. I still think he is a slight upgrade on VV for the 4C position, based on 30+ viewings of VV and 10+ of O’Marra. But last time I checked O’Marra didn’t have a job, and I believe Brule was sent away from his team overseas, so who knows.

  43. DeadmanWaking says:

    Zamboni: A tongue with wheels.
    Zomboni: A tongue with wheels after everyone else has left the building.

    As a measure of how tuned out I had been for nine years, when I took an entrance exam for high school (one of those) I did well in puzzles and poorly in words. I scored thirtieth percentile in vocabulary. I think my parents were advised not to reveal my score in puzzles for my own good. I never found out. The school let me in, and tossed my lame ass into advanced English. Day one, eyes open.

    I had a funny attitude toward words. I figured there was no point knowing a word until you had a thought to put in it. When you get a little further along, you begin to realize that thoughts don’t always have precise boundaries, and the fancy words become your slices, spins, deceptions, and drop shots. Once I wished to write this way, my vocabulary experienced a helium flash.

    This runaway reaction quickly climbs to about 100 billion times the star’s normal energy production (for a few seconds) until the temperature increases to the point that thermal pressure again becomes dominant, eliminating the degeneracy. … The helium flash is not directly observable on the surface by electromagnetic radiation. The flash occurs in the core deep inside the star, and the net effect will be that all released energy is absorbed …

    I just found out about helium flashes recently. How could I have been sleepwalking through life and not known something this cool? That’s like eating a burrito that goes Hindenburg in the middle of a high-level meeting, corking that sucker down like the Incredible Hulk, and not even twitching your eyebrows.

    Coming to a star near you.

    Some stupid website taunted me into a vocabulary quiz the other day. After I pinned the needle there were still three questions left. These were the ones you’re intended not to get. Masochistic to outright unfair. One was a liturgical vestment not even found on that list. One was a compound German word where neither half has entered idiomatic English. The third was an obscure term from the field of mineralogy. I went Eberle on all three and shot the lights out for a perfect score. Definitely not sustainable. I had an inside tip on the vestment. When I played with a vocabulary quiz a few years ago, about 1/3 of the words I didn’t know were archaic items of clothing. In Chinese, when someone with a very large vocabulary in Chinese characters doesn’t know a character, it’s usually a fish or a bird. In English, the people who do well with all those archaic clothing words are highbrow libertines who suck down historical Harlequins; it’s the Illuminati Code circulating at those staid-looking quilting bees.

    In any case, my point is that development is not a straight-line science.

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