(photo via oilers.nhl.com)
If we rewind to the end of the 14/15 NHL season, the feeling around Anton Lander was a pretty good one. He appeared to have established himself as a reliable bottom 6 forward who could kill penalties, win a stupid amount of faceoffs (well over 50%) and contribute a little bit of offense.
He was a great fit with the Oilers. A homegrown, late round pick who had turned into an effective NHL player. Something they definitely don’t have enough off.
Part of his success last season, if not all of it, should be attributed to Todd Nelson. Lander developed for parts of 4 seasons in Oklahoma City with Nelson as his coach and Todd was a big believer in Landers game. The confidence was showing as Lander finished off the 14/15 campaign with 20 points in just 38 games.
He got a new contract done and was a shoe in for the 3rd line center role on this year’s Oilers.
As the new season rolled around Lander didn’t look out of place, netting a hattrick in a preseason game against the Arizona Coyotes.But once the season started he just collapsed.
He quickly fell out of favor with new Head Coach Todd McLellan and before long he was being healthy scratched on a regular basis. Even when he was in the lineup he looked slow and out of place, like all his motivation had withered away.
Statistically he was an even bigger mess. Sitting dead last on the Oilers in every offensive stat category including points/60 and individual corsi/60. Add the fact that he didn’t get his first goal until February 28th and you get a player who has played out his time with the organization. Anton Lander doesn’t and shouldn’t get another chance.
Would there be any takers for a bottom 6 forward on one of the worst teams in the league? Probably not, but part of me wonders if an organization like Detroit would take a flyer on the 24 year old purely based off of the Todd Nelson connection. I doubt Lander would ever go back to the AHL, but if Nelson was coaching there might be a change of heart.
Outside of that, I can’t see a team seriously looking at Lander. I ran a quick search for players who have played at least 500 minutes and Lander ranks third last in points/60. The only forwards worse at producing offense that him were Paul Gaustad and Jacob Josefson. Hell, Jordin Tootoo has put up better numbers than Lander
Really, there is two ways this could go, Lander could come back to the Oilers and accept a minimal role with the team then leave once his deal is up at the end of the 16/17 season. Or he could be loaned to a European team and head home.
Either way, his long-term future with the Oilers and in the NHL in general is…well..non-existent.
Numbers via http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/