4 Players To Watch This Season Part 2 of 3: Anton Lander

Posted: September 18, 2015 in Hockey
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today I am going to switch it up, I originally planned to do 2 players here, but I’m going to give each guy respectively their own piece. I cover Anton Lander today, a guy who’s had a complex journey to where he is now, and a guy who is on the hot seat.

 

#3 Anton Lander

lander journal

Where do we start with this man, who’s career has been full of question marks. Well for starters he was drafted 40th overall in 2009 NHL entry draft by the Oilers. He was a second round pick, but there was plenty of expectations throw on his shoulders when he was drafted. He was always known has a solid two way centre, being drafted from Timra of the SHL, he progressively got better as he got more mature and developed. But unfortunately he was handled poorly after he made the decision to come across the pond and come to Oilers Training camp in 2011-2012, that year he only played 14 games with the OKC barons putting up mediocre numbers: 1 goal 5 points, before being rushed into the Oilers line up that very same season putting up 2 goals and 6 points in 56 games. The handling of him, and rushing him into the lineup was just awful management, and terrible decision-making in general, he wasn’t ready and it look as if his confidence was gone, he needed to develop.  That’s when the question marks started to arise, was he going to be an NHL player or a career AHL guy? Was he going to be able to produce even at the AHL Level?Do the Oilers even resign him?

For the next 3 years he spent time bouncing back between the AHL and the NHL, not really doing much till the 2013-2014 season when he became over a PPG player in the AHL, putting up an impressive 18 goals and 52 points in 46 games. It started to appear that maybe he was coming around, that keeping him in the AHL to develop properly and become a professional was paying off. Then he got called up to the Oilers again with high hopes from everyone, and was seemingly squandering his opportunity again, 1 assist in 27 games, nothing to call home about. I will say in all fairness to Landers struggles, wasn’t all his fault, the handling of him was terrible and the Oilers, well as we all know were not the greatest of teams at the time with average to below average coaching. Then comes the 2014-2015 season he is now the captain of the Barons, carrying a lot bigger of a weight on his shoulders, and he is producing once again putting up 9 goals and 31 points in 29 games with that barons. Then came Todd Nelson after the firing of Dallas Eakins, and Lander was almost immediately called up for some help. You could see this wasnt the same player squandering his chances before, this was a player who had confidence built in him, who was using his skill set to his advantage and was finally looking like he was becoming the centre we have all been waiting for. He was a man changed, a man on a mission to prove he belonged in the NHL every way possible.

The player we saw in the 2014-2015 season is the same one we want to see this upcoming season,putting up 6 goals and 20 points in 38 games (career highs all around for him). He was a player who was sticking up for teammates, wasn’t shying away from the scrums or the physical stuff. He was battling hard in the corners, he was battling for every puck, no matter who it was and obviously Lander isn’t the biggest guy out there, but there was an intensity and a ferocity to his game that was lacking each of the previous years. He was known for being a solid two way player when being drafted, and he finally started to show that he could excel at both ends. His hockey intelligence was finally on display, his smart and mature decisions that he was drafted for were being shown…a comfortable, confident Anton Lander showed up. Even though he wasn’t looked to as one of the leaders, he was making sure that his presence was known, he was vocal, his actions were speaking louder than his words were on the ice. Everything Lander was drafted for, was on display and his greatest weakness being his skating, was much improved and could tell there was work put in strengthen his weakness.

This is Anton Landers time to shine, with the shipping of Boyd Gordon back to Arizona for winger Lauri Korpikoski, that #3 spot has opened up and his for the taking, whether he takes it and runs with it will be seen. Training camp is just around the around corner, and he’s going to have some competition with that being the #3 overall pick from 2014 Leon Draisaitl, who took his demotion back to Kelowna of the WHL as something positive and destroyed the WHL on his way to becoming the Memorial cup MVP. With that said this job isn’t going to be handed to Lander, he’s going to have to work even harder now, and show his new coach Todd Mclellan that he’s ready to go, he’s ready to prove what he did last year wasn’t a fluke. But there is a positive to him having to show his worth to yet another coach, is that his new coach has a history of putting centres of the wing, so even if he doesn’t win the job as the centre, putting him on the wing isn’t ruled out as an option for him. This is Anton Landers year, here is to hoping he’s ready and shows up.

Projections:82 games, 13 goals, 27 assists-40 points.

Feel free to follow me on twitter at @madi39 and let me know what you think!

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