The Swedish invasion of Edmonton continues. The Expressen is reporting and Amanda Johansson-Murie from Sundsvalls Tidning is confirming the Edmonton Oilers have signed centreman Anton Lander to an entry-level contract. This is cause for celebration for more than just the crew here at Copper & Blue, as this signing may be a glimmer of hope that players want to come to Edmonton, and that wingers Linus Omark and Magnus Paajarvi have had positive reports of Edmonton to bring home to Lander.
There was worry amongst Oilers fans that Lander would not sign with the Oilers and re-enter the NHL entry draft, or stay in Sweden and forgo the NHL altogether. After the disappointment of being left off of Sweden's World Championship team, it seems he's now focused on his North American professional career.
"I want to take this chance now. It's a boyhood dream come true," says Lander on the signing. Lander was selected by the Oilers in the 2009 NHL entry draft in the second round, 40th overall. "I knew that I would take the opportunity to go over to Edmonton, for my development and the club has a good plan for me too. I want to jump on the train now and everything feels very inspiring. It is a great enrichment club, and it will be fun to be part of it." Should be music to every Oilers' fan's ears and is possibly the best news you will hear all day.
Lander delivered the second-highest NHL Equivalency among all Edmonton prospects, as his 11 goals and 15 assists in 49 games for Timrå translates to 14 goals and 20 assists over a full 82 game season. His offense has progressed each year during his career in Timrå as seen in the table below:
Lander was believed to be a defense-first center, but he may be capable of delivering some offense as well. Lander is a player marked by his intangibles, especially his on-ice fire and his off-ice personality. The former was captured in the introduction to Sundsvall Tidning writer Jimmy Hamrin's interview with Lander, done for The Copper & Blue:
"Anton Lander seems to suffer from some kind of disorder that forces him to be huge in big games"
The latter was described by Hamrin in this passage:
He sat down and shook my hand and asked what I had and went and bought it. He showed a genuine appreciation towards me and acted genuinely interested in me as a person. It was almost like it was his pleasure to meet me and not vice versa. It is difficult to accept but it feels like he has the ability to make others feel important around him.
Lander is renowned for his leadership traits - he was named as on of Timrå's Assistant Captains as an 18-year old, a rare and remarkable feat and was named Captain of the Swedish National Team, Tre Kronor, during a World Championship warm-up game.
Our own Bruce McCurdy tracked Lander for a shift-by-shift analysis during the 2011 WJC Bronze Medal game. Hus take on Lander from that game:
Anton's got an outstanding head for the game, but in this contest showed a couple of rough edges that he will need to continue to work hard on, skating and faceoffs in particular. That said he's a 19-year-old kid on a steep learning curve. In my view as a defensive player he is already ahead of some of the centres who play for the Oilers . That will have to be his calling card as he is not gifted offensively, although I think he's smart enough with enough innate hockey sense that he will get his points no matter where his career takes him.