Anton Lander was signed to a one-year contract extension by the Edmonton Oilers, the team announced Monday. The Sundsvall, Sweden native was set to become an RFA this off-season.
“I’m really happy,” Lander said via phone from his home in Sweden. “We’re glad about the contract and I’m really excited for the camp coming up.”
In a lot of ways, this season has been quite the ride for the the 23-year-old Anton Lander. It was a season full of growth and opportunity as he continues to develop in the hopes of making it to the NHL full time.
“Yeah, I would say that,” he said. “It was a lot of flying up and down. I’m happy with the season in OKC. We played good and after the season’s over I think I did okay in Oklahoma… Compare that to my season with Edmonton, it was okay but I’m not that happy with how I played. You always want to be a better hockey player and that’s something I want to work on this summer.”
|Photo by Jeff Nash | edmontonoilers.com |
Lander posted career numbers with the Barons in the AHL, blossoming offensively at that level this season. He had 52 points (18-34-52) in 46 games with OKC, finishing in the top 40 in league scoring despite spending part of the season in the NHL. He played 27 games with the Oilers this season, recording an assist.
It was a lot of up-and-down movement for Lander this season. The 40th-overall pick of the Oilers in 2009 might have the Edmonton and Oklahoma City airport layouts memorized by now. But all that flux may have been a blessing to Lander who says it is motivation to push him to where he wants to be.
“I think it more made me think that I want more responsibilities, I want to show I am a good enough player to play with the Oilers and try to get a job there. I think you learn a lot of stuff and you get a lot of time to think over a couple of things too. If you start complaining on that it’s only going to make you start thinking about excuses and all those things.”
With the Oilers season winding down, the organization began auditioning a few of their young players. Lander was one of those players. Where in previous call-ups to the NHL Lander would see limited ice time on the fourth line, he was given more of a chance to play with teammates who were higher up on the depth chart.
“It was a lot of fun, it was great and they gave me a great opportunity to show what I’ve got and I didn’t play as good as I wanted me to play. It was a new thing for me too and I learned new things on the ice and got some more responsibilities. That’s what you need as a player for going into next season to be on that team, to know how it works. You can only learn from everything you’ve been through.”
In OKC, Lander took on a leadership role and was named captain of the Barons. He is the youngest captain in Barons franchise history and is also the first Edmonton Oilers prospect to be given the honour of wearing the ‘C’ on his chest. With the turnover on Oklahoma City’s roster heading into this season and the injection of youth into the system it wasn’t the easiest of tasks to take over captaincy of the Barons. Luckily for Lander, he didn’t need to overhaul his character or style of leadership.
“I haven’t changed anything,” Lander told okcbarons.com after the season ended. “That’s what I believe in leadership. You do the same thing every day, you work hard and try to show more on the ice than (with) talk. But on the other side, you have to let the new guys come in and feel comfortable. They’ve been doing a great job. They come in, they’re good guys, they understand where they are, they try to learn from the older guys and it’s been easy. They are such good players and great guys so for me it has been a great group of guys to be a leader for. But we’ve got at least ten different guys who can be the captain of this team. They’re all great leaders and it’s been a fun year.”
In addition to being a leader in the dressing room for the Barons, Lander took on many responsibilities on the ice as well. Those games and those minutes helped him grow as a player and continue his development.
“I know (Todd Nelson) really trusted me on the ice and he let me play in a lot of different situations, at the end of the game and all that stuff. I think that helps players in growing as hockey players too. I think it was good for me to play all those games with Oklahoma.”
While Lander took a step forward in the AHL this season offensively, he is already looking ahead to camp with Edmonton as he continues to try and stick with the Oilers and advance his career.
“I think I’ve got to work on my skating and get stronger and get faster,” he said. “That will help me to get stronger, make me a quicker offensive player and that’s going to help me out on the ice too. Right now I can only focus on my workouts off ice here back home and when the camps start coming, they will take it from there. We’ll work on the ice and read the situation and create some offence and finish my checks too as well. I think that will be my biggest thing to think about when I go to camp.”