After suffering a broken foot off a Justin Schultz shot in early February, it appears that Anton Lander is well. And with his wellness comes a reassignment to the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL. I’ll give you the spin from the minor league perspective because that’s likely why you’re reading this site. So here goes.
The Edmonton Oilers may have depth issues at center, but the Oklahoma City Barons are an altogether different story. Here are the legit centermen (in offensive order) currently with the team.
Mark Arcobello, C.J. Stretch, Eric Hunter, Chris VandeVelde, Ryan Martindale, Tanner House.
That’s six legit guys down the middle, and that’s a crowded house with the addition of Anton Lander. What that means is it may be time to send Eric Hunter back to Stockton or perhaps the Oilers believe Ryan Martindale gets the plane ticket. But keep in mind, you can almost negate Hunter as a centerman because he’s played more wing than anything else since returning to OKC this go-round. But still, things are tight.
Where does Lander play, becomes the next question worth entertaining. I’d love to see him centering that second line with C.J. Stretch and Toni Rajala on the wings. Their quickness, his sturdiness – that sounds right to me. You could also make a case for Anton to play a third line role, moving VandeVelde down a notch, and swapping him out for House/Martindale in some kind of rotation situation.
Defensively he adds a bit of traction to a Brett Clark led penalty kill unit that is exactly what the doctor ordered come playoff push and beyond. And remember, the Barons still own the worst PK in the league at 76.4% which is a full three numbers larger than the 29th team on the PK. Yuck. Don’t think that won’t be a huge factor down the stretch.
Any way you look at this, Anton Lander is a huge asset to our minor league team. He always has been whenever he hits the ice in OKC. I expect nothing different this time.