SHARE THE LAND

I always envision Anton Lander like this: marking his man, covering him like a blanket, discouraging the pass and generally upsetting offense. However, “upsetting offense” has been the problem for Lander since he arrived in North America.

Anton Lander was presented to us as a “checking center” and we knew offense would never be his forte; still, after a solid offensive season in the SEL at age 19 (49, 11-15-26 good for 3rd in scoring for Timra IK 2010-11) we certainly had every reason to believe he’d hit above the Mendoza line.

The Oilers–as bad teams often do–got over excited about Lander’s footspeed at the summer camp 2011 and damned if they didn’t give him a major league job that fall. He was not effective in the role at evens (but did contribute to the PK as a 20-year old rookie), and his offense was exceptionally poor with the Oilers. Among forwards who played 40 or more games in 2011-12, Lander’s even strength 5×5/60 was 349th out of 368 players. His .62/60 5×5 placed him ahead of old men, enforcers and Islanders.

The handling of Lander last season was beyond awful, and I do believe one of the reasons Tom Renney is no longer with the organization. This year, Lander spent much of the first 6 weeks in a fog, but recently he’s been crawling from the wreckage and putting together some good games with Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen as his wingers. I have some hope the club will keep Lander in the minors for the entire season, and one of the benefits of a lost NHL season might be that entire line developing some chemistry and heading north fall 2013 as a “Bulldog 2.0″ line.

Lander’s boxcars this season (24, 2-3-5 +3) break down like this:

  • October: 6, 0-0-0 +2
  • November: 10, 1-0-1 -2
  • December: 8, 1-3-4 +3

So, basically nothing until December and now he’s scoring at a .500 clip per game. We know Lander isn’t going to be an offensive dynamo, and we also know that the Oilers won’t need him to be with the Nuge and Sam Gagner ahead of him on the depth chart through the rest of this decade. However, Lander will need to provide some offense in order to stay in the NHL.

Recently, Jason Gregor had a chance to interview OKC coach Todd Nelson about Lander and I found the words encouraging:

  • Nelson: “He’s been playing some good hockey for us. I think it was kind of weird, he got sick one weekend and he came back after that and it was like he was a different player. I don’t know if it was just a situation where he needed a break and had to refocus, but he’s been playing some really good hockey for us lately. He’s been responsible in both ends of the rink. He’s been doing some things offensively that we never saw at the start of the year, so it’s getting better and better. He got off to a slow start, but I like where his game is at right now and hopefully that continues.”

Part of this is that he’s been hanging around in a better part of town: Lander’s last three assists have come on goals by Hall, Hall and Schultz. Not bad, not bad. However, Nelson doesn’t mince words and by eye and number things seem to be heading north. In his most recent Barons Player Grades update at COH, Jonathan Willis summed up Lander’s game and his hopeful future role beautifully.

  • Willis: #16 Anton Lander, 5. Picked up an assist on the opening goal and had a pretty decent defensive game but was not flashy.

About 10 years of that as an Oiler and we’ll consider Anton Lander a raging success. If he can’t deliver at least  some offense, the checking doesn’t matter. The Oilers are best to leave him in OKC this and possibly next, get his confidence back and then ease him into the NHL as his second contract arrives. If they aren’t careful, if they push him again, they could lose Lander a second time. And after that, my guess is you’ll never hear from him again.

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14 Responses to "SHARE THE LAND"

  1. oilgreg says:

    I enjoy your posts, Lowetide. You and most of your corresponders write with an intelligence not often seen on blog sites. Merry Christmas, and keep up your great work in 2013 (when, hopefully, there is actually an NHL in session) !!

  2. Lowetide says:

    Thanks, OilGreg. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. I think we have everything, so this might actually be a day where I’m not running to the store!!!!

  3. oilgreg says:

    I my one & only grievance is that I like Lander much more than you :) Smart and skilled, he will be a third-line anchor for many years. Maybe the expectations are too high. We must remember that he was drafted in the 40th spot, a draft-point where the vast majority of picks do not become regular NHL’ers.

  4. Marc says:

    Lander showed last season that he can kill penalties at the NHL level. If he can get his offence to the point where he can be counted on for 20-30 points per season then he should have a decent career.

  5. Lowetide says:

    OilGreg: I like Lander too, he could be a very importannt part of this team (which has no obvious kingpin for the future bottom 6f). I think maybe he and Paajarvi could develop into an effective checking duo, but that’s miles away. I still believe, but they’re going to have to be careful now.

  6. gcw_rocks says:

    Merry Christmas LT!

    I think we expect the bulldogs in fall 2013, not 2012.

    I would love to see that whole line play this season in the minors together. With Smyth and Horcoff holding down the 3rd line role, there aren’t minutes available this year (unless Horcoff gets flushed in an amnesty buy out). Having them come up and take the 3rd line role in 2013 is a best case scenario for the Oilers.

  7. sliderule says:

    Lander has to break out .He looks like a player but he hasn’t put up enough points at the minor pro level to show he can have a career in NHL.
    I have searched hockey db tring to find a player with similar stats who has emerged but I haven’t found anything.
    Pitlick is in a similar position looks like a player but no results.JFJ for all his deficiencies produced as a minor pro.

  8. Marc says:

    oilgreg:
    Maybe the expectations are too high. We must remember that he was drafted in the 40th spot, a draft-point where the vast majority of picks do not become regular NHL’ers.

    Agreed. A fair number of people seem to think that a second round pick has somehow been wasted if it looks like they’ll be a fourth line forward or a third pairing D, when it is actually cause for celebration when a second round pick is playing a regular shift in any capacity.

    It’s instructive to consider Stu’s draft picks in terms of statistically expected return. Stu has picked 6 players in the first round (including 3 first overall), 6 in the second round and 25 in the third
    round or later. Statistically speaking, roughly 3 in 5 first rounders (and almost all first overall picks), 1 in 4 second rounders and 1 in 8 players from the third round or later manage to play 200 games in the NHL.

    So out of the 37 draft picks that Stu has made so far, we should expect to get 10 NHL players – 5 from the first round, 2 from the second and 3 from the late rounds. Now, none of Stu’s picks have actually played 200 games, but I think it’s fair to assume that Eberle, Hall, RNH and Yakupov will make it. MPS (121 games to date) also seem like a good bet. So whether or not Klefbom makes it, Stu has covered the bet as far as first rounders go (by contrast Prendergast hit with only 4 out of 10 first rounders, and that’s assuming the Dubnyk will make it to 200 games).

    We should only expect 5 more NHL players from all of the remaining Oilers draft picks to date – 2 of the second rounders and 3 of the late rounders – so if half of Hartikainen, Marincin, Gernat, Khaira, Musil, Pitlick, Simpson, Lander, Moroz and Rieder make it to the show in any capacity, Stu has done his job. If 6 or 7 of them do, then he has demonstrated his magnificence.

    Or at least his above averageness.

  9. Lowetide says:

    The thing about Jacques was his back basically screwed him out of a career. These AHL kids this year are having trouble AND they aren’t getting steady ice imo.

    Jacques as an AHL rookie by discipline:
    overall: 65, 24-20-44
    EVENS: 65, 11-10-21
    PP: 65, 13-9-22
    PK: 65, 0-1-1

    Pitlick as an AHL rookie by discipline:
    overall: 62, 7-16-23
    EVENS: 62, 4-13-17
    PP: 62, 3-3-6
    PK: 62, 0-0-0

    So even though the numbers look to favor Jacques–and they do–clearly opportunity had something to do with it. Also, Jacques was part of a “shared” team with Montreal/Edmonton, which is a double edged sword: they were stacked, which meant opportunity, but they also had tremendous depth and Jacques found a way to make it onto the PP often enough to score 13 goals.

  10. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Ahh… Lander… hard to think of him without smiling at that pesky angular jaw indifferently starring at the opposition and sending them into incomprehensible frustration.

    He’s got to figure out how to score, but it seems like the germ of most of the rest of his game is already there…. now just that giant hill: nhl points. More than a few have died on that one.

    LT, on this:

    “The handling of Lander last season was beyond awful, and I do believe one of the reasons Tom Renney is no longer with the organization.”

    I wonder about this for two reasons.

    1) Is the coach in charge of these decisions? I thought the coach operated within the strictures of what the GM provided: i.e., here’s your players Tom, make it work.

    Or, is the coach overwhelmingly decisive in these situations, i.e., pulls more weight than a GM, or enough to assign blame?

    2) If Mgt. cared enough about this to fire Renney over it, they obviously recognized the problem… if that is the case, why not force the issue mid-season? Why give their coach enough rope to hang himself with if they saw the problem?

    Either a) they were on board with the call; b) they recognized the mistake only late in the season; c) they saw a problem but sat on their hands

    not sure which scenario is the most encouraging.

  11. Lowetide says:

    Rom: Lander DOES have that look, doesn’t he? Sather had it too. God, he looked smug just standing there. Lander has a combination vacant/crazy/I ate your lunch look that surely wins friends.

  12. hunter1909 says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: 2) If Mgt. cared enough about this to fire Renney over it, they obviously recognized the problem… if that is the case, why not force the issue mid-season? Why give their coach enough rope to hang himself with if they saw the problem?

    That’s another indicator of Tambellini’s pope-like management style. Whether Renney sucked so much he needed instant sacking or not, it simply doesn’t suit the style of Sphinx-like Tambo.

    He operates using macro-theories. Mere matters such as lost seasons simply do not compute with these guys.

  13. Oilanderp says:

    How much offense would be enough?

  14. Lowetide says:

    Oilanderp: I think it depends on just how good he is defensively. Early returns are excellent, so if he can deliver as a PK option and a checker at evens, numbers similat to Winnik should be good enough (Winnik per 82gp: 8-15-23).

    He just has to chip in every once in awhile.

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