In late March we heard the first rumblings that Anton Lander would be playing in the KHL next season. This morning that rumour appears to have become reality; he’ll be playing for Ak Bars Kazan next season. From Igor Eronko’s Twitter account:
If you’re a fan of Lander this is likely a little disappointing but also not at all shocking. Lander, who turned 26 last month, played in only 22 games for the Oilers this season, instead spending the bulk of the year with the team’s AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. While he couldn’t find a regular spot in the lineup, rookie Drake Caggiula spent the entire season in Edmonton. Lander was this team’s AAAA player, good in the minors but never quite good enough in the majors. And it’s hard to see how next season would have been any different.
I haven’t seen any contract details yet, but this is likely as much about opportunity as it is about money. Lander’s contract paid him $1.05M last season, regardless of whether he was playing in the NHL or the AHL, and there’s a chance he could have gotten a similar deal from the Oilers or another NHL team this summer. But at 26 years old he’s probably more than a little tired of riding a bus in the minors and sees playing full time in the KHL as a better bet for landing a full time gig in the NHL. I wish him luck.