Sunday, September 4, 2011

Anton has "LANDED"



How SWEDE it is..."Anton has landed" in Oil Country. Not sure exactly if he is in town (Hall did say on twitter he was giving him the lowdown on baseball). Fans have been waiting patiently for Anton Lander to arrive and find his place within the Edmonton Oilers organization for a couple years now. We have heard the rave reviews on his leadership abilities, we listen to all the speculation where he starts the season. We have been informed by coach's of his on ice improvements, not to mention the fan support and peer support we hear about back in Sweden.

What we don't know is, "will he play for the Oilers this year"? I know there are alot of fans cheering for him, and he has the support of many of the coach's should he show well coming out of training camp. Obviously none of us can say what is going to happen exactly, come opening night roster. What we can do, is speculate though. That's right, we love to do that in the blogosphere and in mainstream sports media. We hear speculation from some of the best insiders to the Oilers hockey team and around the NHL almost every day. So let's just do a small breakdown of Lander's game, and the circumstances surrounding his arrival at this point in the Oilers organization.

Circumstances:
There are several centerman Lander is fighting for a position against. Let's look at the locks in the Center position. Gagner, Horcoff and Belanger. These three centerman are going no where. Or are they? (we'll come back to that in a week or so) That would leave one last position to fight for. In all likelihood that leaves Lander, Nugent-Hopkins and VandeVelde as the three most likely to fill that last center position role (In no particular #). As far as Nugent-Hopkins goes, I will cover that in another post later in the week. But VandeVelde? Truth is, Chris is a big boy, can hit and did show well in the face-off department in his, end of the year NHL run. True enough, he was a little slower on the play on occasion but did seem to be improving as the year was coming to a end. Needs more foot speed is what most reports are saying.

So Lander has a good chance in this group to grab that last center position. He will have to earn it though. It is very likely should he perform and show well coming out of the rookie tourney, and main training camp he gets his fair shot during pre-season. What will the Oilers be looking for from him on the ice? My guess? Good face-off %, strong defensive play (on puck and away from puck), good forecheck and backcheck and strong on the puck. IMO, I think they would like to slot him into the 4th Center position.

Skills:
Anton has been close to 50% in the dot playing against men in Sweden (and tougher competition). Should he play against other team's 3rd and 4th line centerman, he stands a chance to do well in that regard. A year or two may just prepare him well enough to become a face-off specialist (Maybe he can learn some from Belanger. We can hope, can't we?). Anton has also increased his first step acceleration, which was a main concern for coach's in the 2010 development camp. He went back to Sweden and worked on it. This last 2011 development camp, it was noted by over three coach's and several media members that he has vastly improved this area of his game. From watching him at both camps first hand, I can honestly say it was as different as night and day. Lander also appears to be much more agile when seen at this last development camp then the previous year.

As I have mentioned in other postings I have done, I personally was able to see his leadership on the ice. He looks comfortable, he jokes with many different players (both younger and older prospects) and is very vocal on the ice during the play. This last camp , you often would know he was on the ice, as he was either shouting out directions to his teammates or slapping his stick on the ice to get the attention of his line mates. Positionally Lander has a great grasp of the game and is seldom caught out of position. With that better first step he has worked on, that should suit him well in competing for that last center position.

Forecast:
Should Anton Lander perform well in camp and pre-season, I think we are still looking at him going down to OKC. However, it really depends on the final decision with Nugent-Hopkins. If Nugent-Hopkins gets sent back to Jr after his first 9 games, Lander will most likely get his shot early in the season. Should Nugent-Hopkins stay for the year, Lander would more then likely be the first call up for the center position.

All, I can say is  "How Swede it is, to have Lander here"

you can follow me on twitter @revingev

4 comments:

  1. Nice read. Lander should indeed be our 4th line C this year (as I tried to point out in my own blog awhile ago - it simply makes sense to go with Lander instead of RNH).

    Anyway.. Lander is in town. Got here (or well, - there) a week ago tomorrow :)

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  2. totally agree dohfOs, but of course should RNH play extremely well and look like a top two centerman? How can you send him down to Jr, without sending the wrong message. Hopefully one or the other shows well enough to not be a question.
    I was pretty sure Lander was here, but with being in and out of the city lots lately, wasn't enough time to verify. Thanks for the heads up. Cheers!

    @revingev

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  3. I think it's kinda funny how after his 17-goal season in '09-10, Brule was all the rage. One injury-plagued season later, he's not even mentioned in the Oilers' centre depth?

    Love the prospects coming up, but if Nuge ends up going back to junior, odds are that 4th line C spot is Brule's to lose. He hasn't been bought out yet.

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  4. I still was not sold on Brule's 17 goal season. I thought the contract he received was too much and too long. He had proven nothing previously. Also with all the injuries on the team he got some good top 6 time. Good player when healthy, but is taking too long to develop into that top 9 player minimum. He is not good defensive enough for me to play the center position, even though he is good at face-offs. You may be right though, if he is healthy, RNH goes back to Jr, he may still start the year on 4th line center position. But since he was proposed in Smyth trade already, its highly likely now he gets moved if at all possible.

    @revingev

    ReplyDelete

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