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#12 - Anton Lander

No longer the handsomest Swede in the system.

Gregory Shamus

Anton Lander just finished his entry-level contract, but it feels like he's already had a million and one chances to stick with the Oilers without actually doing it. A part of that is the diverse forms of failure the Oilers have found since Lander came over from Sweden.

Lander has already played for three head coaches at the NHL level, and the last one seems to have been the least enamored with him. Under Dallas Eakins, Lander lost reps to AHL lifers like Will Acton (ouch) and Mark Arcobello (it turns out he's pretty good) instead of pushing his way into the lineup. When he did get to play at the end of the year, he brought no five-on-five offense with him. Literally. Lander was one of four players to dress for at least twenty games last season without registering a point five-on-five. So why does everyone still have in the top twenty?

Alan Ben Bruce Curtis DB Derek Jeff Jon Michael Ryan Scott Zsolt
11 14
12 14

Previous Rank: 11

Even if we grant, as we should, that his NHL results have been decidedly underwhelming, his AHL results showed marked improvement, and that, it seems to me, is reason for legitimate optimism about Lander's role with the Oilers. The AHL is a tough league after all and posting over a point per game there certainly isn't easy.


But what does a point per game in the AHL really mean? Is it something that we should expect of Lander at that point in his development? I think it's an interesting question, so I decided to take a look. The following chart shows every forward since the 2005-06 season who scored over a point per game in  a minimum of forty games at the AHL level in what would have been his Draft +5 season if he had been drafted in his first year of eligibility:


It's actually a pretty encouraging list. The criteria creates an interesting situation where a guy needs to both be blowing the doors off in the AHL and yet still find himself stuck there for some reason at a relatively young age. The reasons are different for each guy, but of the thirteen statistical (note: not stylistic) comparables, five turned into pretty good NHL players, which are better odds than what you'd get with a second round pick (which is, incidentally, exactly what the Kings got from Vancouver when they traded Linden Vey).

Did all of these players work out? No. But even some of the guys below the "useful" line got quite a bit of time in the NHL playing a depth role, and the clear majority at least got another chance to prove themselves. But I'm certainly not putting Lander this high on my list because he's safe to play a few more NHL games. I'm putting him this high because this list at least hints that it might be possible for Lander to bring the required amount of offense to play effectively in a middle six role in the NHL. Combine that with his strong penalty killing and leadership skills, and you have a quality prospect. Still. Six years and four head coaches later.

Check out previous stories in the Top 25 Under 25 series in our StoryStream.