Many prospects attending Oilers Development Camp are getting a new opportunity to impress. For others, such as Swedish dynamo Anton Lander
, this mid-summer event provides another chance to improve on skills in need.
Lander was selected by Edmonton 40th overall in 2009. Since then, he's been tuning his wheels in Sweden's Elitserien, becoming Timra IK's go-to weapon as an outstanding two-way pivot.
Although Lander was gradually emerging as one of the team's top prospects, feedback from coaches and management helped provide a clearer view of what needed to be worked on.
In order to properly compete for an NHL position, he needed to grease those axles.
Concerns about Lander's skating began to surface last year. He certainly had a smooth, commanding stride but was lacking in quickness. It became a faction of pride, something he worked on extensively to correct throughout the season.
Without question, the greatest standout this week has been the humble 20-year-old. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
and others have been excellent, but the overall improvement in Lander's skill has been a wonderful indication of where his career is headed in Edmonton.
His speed continues to shine, but his movement off the line has undergone a remarkable transformation. It's all part of the process as Lander looks to begin his new path in North America.
"I feel more comfortable," he said. "It's more like I'm going to move for real now this year, and I'm going to go for both camps [in September] and see what happens.
"I'm going for it, all the way."
The timing couldn't be more perfect. General Manager Steve Tambellini is keen to welcome high-end talent, and Lander's quick turnaround means a career with the Oilers could become real in short order.
Last year at this time, he was given simple instructions from Edmonton's development team about what he needed to do to reach the next level in his career.
"Have fun, work hard and do everything you have to do to get better," Lander explained. "It was a good year for me, but it was really tough for the team. I feel like I got some good steps. It was a tough, but good year for me."
Although Development Camp isn't built for evaluation, Lander is making an impact with the organization's prospect eyes. Director of Player Development Mike Sillinger has been particularly impressed, citing Lander's explosiveness as a marked improvement from last year's camp.
"I see a little more jump in his stride," he said. "At camp last year, he was a guy that had to work on his skating. We knew he had powerful legs and had a really good stride, but we wanted him to be a little quicker as far as first-step quickness goes."
Turning heads has been an especially impressive feat considering Lander started camp in foreign boots. Because his equipment hadn't yet arrived, he donned brand new skates and performed admirably, even so.
"They were a coach's skates," Sillinger laughed. "He's skating really well. We know about his skill and his hockey sense; he's a very smart, intelligent player that's great on both sides of the puck. But what I see in doing a couple days with [Steve Serdachny's] skating is that he's got that extra jump in his step."
Lander added: "It's much better to have my own skates. It feels way better today (Friday) than on Monday."
As Sillinger alluded to, Skating and Skills Coach Steve Serdachny has played an instrumental role in Lander's improvement. In fact, he'll be traveling to Sweden later this month to provide bonus, one-on-one education.
"I talk a lot with Steve," Lander said. "He's coming to Sweden at the end of July and I'm going to work with him there, too. Hopefully I'm going to get better.
"It's the same thing. I have to work on everything."
In the meantime, Lander has fully embraced the opportunity here. Perhaps more than anything, he's been given a great chance to share some laughs, bond with future teammates and build lifelong relationships.
"They're good guys and we have fun together. Teubert's a great guy. He talks lots and makes me feel comfortable here. Hopefully these guys are going to be my friends."
Apparently he's become somewhat of a comedian as well.
"I have to show that I'm from Sweden and that I don't take [crap].
"I'm kidding," he laughed.Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com