Among the quotable quotes being delivered pell-mell and willy-nilly by Craig MacTavish the other day, his description of the depth chart at center caught my ear for one major reason:
- MacTavish: “We’ve got Leon Draisaitl, which is a big question mark for an 18-year-old’s ability to come in. We’ve got Anton Lander, who has shown an ability to score and be a real good player at the American League level. We’ve got Mark Arcobello, who when we sent him back had two points per game at the American League level or very close [to it]; he’s got potential to fill one of those roles. When you look at our depth chart, I understand and certainly agree with that position having the most question marks.” Source
The Oilers like their question marks better than the ones who were available in the days after July 1, or more accurately that were available after Olli Jokinen made his decision. That’s my read, speak now or forever hold you peace. Let’s have a little deeper look at Lander, and maybe we can project him into a role that coach Eakins didn’t see him in last year.
- Dallas Eakins: “If (Lander) is going to play here, he has to be able to play centre, he has to play left-wing and he has to play right-wing. He has to be able to step in on the power play and kill penalties. He has to be able to wear a bunch of different hats.”
First, let’s establish that Lander in fact filled an offensive role in the AHL.
- Lander EV in 13-14: 43, 8-14-22 .511
- Lander PP in 13-14: 43, 10-16-26 .605
- Horak EV in 13-14: 53, 14-15-29 .547
- Horak PP in 13-14: 53, 7-12-19 .358
This is a quick comparison (Lander to Roman Horak) and both would appear to be legit NHL prospects based on their 2013-14 season. Lander is a little shy of Horak at evens, but this is a small sample size and the conclusion I reach is that both could be NHL players in the right situation. Fair? Earlier in the offseason, I looked at Lander’s current position as being extremely similar to Theo Peckham’s the summer he signed for 2011-12. Giant opportunity here, but nothing has been decided at that time.
I think we can add to that statement, and reasonably assume the following: Edmonton believes in Anton Lander enough to pass over other options that were available late, and we should expect he gets a full shot at being a regular this season.
During his short NHL career, Anton Lander has been gifted with the following linemates 5×5:
- Lennart Petrell 221 minutes
- Ben Eager 199 minutes
- Ryan Jones 171 minutes
- Magnus Paajarvi 112 minutes
- David Perron 99 minutes
His Corsi for % 5×5 with Paajarvi? 55.2. Lordy.
VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMER (CORSI REL)
Here’s Lander posted on the sledgehammer, via Rel. He’s in the softer end of the graph (but not the softest) and his zone start is no bargain. He’s also behind Arcobello in terms of qual comp, and I think that’s something we can probably assume will continue in 2014-15. So, if we can agree Leon will be in the right hand lower quadrant (soft opps and a zone start push), and Lander will probably be secondary toughs with a more difficult zone start, then it’s up to Nuge, Gordon and Arco to play the heart of the game between them.
Anton Lander is going to get his chance this season, but it’s very likely in a controlled situation. He may be closer, and the AHL numbers are very encouraging, but he’s behind Nuge, Gordon and Arcobello as an NHL center. Agree?