Anton Lander is one of the few players to appear on the Edmonton Oilers roster who was drafted by the club outside of the first round.
Taken in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Lander is every team’s dream — he’s the perfect mid-line center, able to play strong offense and a strong defensively aware forward. He’s capable of leading an effective penalty kill, but doesn’t mind providing some scoring, too — at his best, he could be a Selke candidate with a defensively-minded franchise, but at the very least he’s a quiet on-ice leader. He’s young, but has continued to improve at the NHL level (despite his team going on a quick downward spiral).
Often overlooked due to the overwhelming host of offensive power crowding Edmonton’s top six, Lander still hasn’t managed to completely push his way into the NHL. Despite this, it seems the Oilers are pleased with him enough to offer him a nice, early contract extension — he’s now signed with the team for two more years, in which he’ll hopefully see his role increase. This season alone, he’s gone from a rough few seasons that saw his ice time limited at Rexall to one where, despite still being a bottom six player, he’s on the ice often enough to really develop a scoring touch with his club. Over 33 games in the NHL this season, the 23-year-old native of Timra, Sweden has netted six goals and eleven assists — with a bit more ice time and strong linemates, Lander has the potential to hit 15-20 goals per season and captain the team’s primary PK.
Lander wasn’t the only young forward who got inked to a deal Thursday morning, though.
The Los Angeles Kings announced that pending RFA Tanner Pearson, who has missed the majority of the 2014-2015 season with a broken foot, signed a two year, $2.8 million dollar extension with the club.
Prior to his early season injury, Pearson was best known for providing a lethal offense alongside Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter. The trio, who exploded during the 2014 Playoffs, are best known as ‘The Seventies Line’ for their 70’s jersey numbers — but despite the light-hearted title given to the three forwards, they were far from fun to play against. Pearson — who contributed four goals and eight assists in the post-season alone last spring — had already cranked out twelve goals and four assists over forty-five games when he was shut down for the year.
The $2.8 million deal breaks down to $1.4 million AAV; with many assuming that Pearson could easily command more on the free market, the Kings will have to either sort out their finances by the time he’s up for a contract renewal or attempt to movehim for a younger version of himself. Already struggling with salary cap compliance for next season (and no definitive plan for defenseman Slava Voynov‘s cap hit moving forward), the Kings were smart to sign Pearson to a cheap bridge deal — but for other teams with money to burn, the extension announcement is nothing more than a smoke signal.