Anton Lander will look to do something this Olympics that has only been done twice before, captain Sweden to a gold medal. If he does, he will join the exclusive club with Mats Sundin and Charles Berglund. Sweden does have an excellent chance to take home the gold but will need their captain to play a significant role if they want to be crowned champions.
Lander’s International Career With Sweden
Lander has been a staple for Team Sweden since he first participated in the U-16 program in 2005-06. He has captained the team twice and has played over 100 games for Sweden. This will be his second Olympics as he was part of Sweden’s 2018 team.
Despite his long career with Sweden, Lander only has two medals to show. He won a bronze as part of Sweden’s 2010 World Juniors team, putting up eight points in six games and a gold at the then called Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2007. It has been almost 15 years since he won gold for his country, but he hopes he can once again have the medal hanging around his neck at the end of the Beijing 2022 Olympics.
Lander’s Career After the NHL
Lander played 215 games for the Oilers but decided to head back to Europe after bouncing between the American Hockey League (AHL) and NHL for six years. He joined Ak Bars Kazan, part of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), in 2017, where he helped them win the Gagarin Cup in his first season. In 2019, he moved over to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL before signing with EV Zug of the National League (NL) this season.
The move to Switzerland seems to have paid off as Lander has 29 points in 34 games. He has had the opportunity to develop some chemistry with team Sweden teammate Carl Klingberg and comes into the Olympics having registered five points in his last four games. A fixture in EV Zug’s top-six, Lander has been vital to their success and has helped them reach second place in the league this season.
Role With Team Sweden
Lander is expected to play a big role for Sweden. He will most likely be the team’s first-line center and will be asked to play significant minutes on the penalty kill and power play. A player with great speed and an accurate shot, do not be surprised if the captain leads the team in goals as he did during the 2018 Olympics.
One area that Lander has had success in this year is faceoffs, especially in the defensive zone. So far this season, he has a 59.32 win % on faceoffs in his own zone. Overall, he has a 53.62 win % on 608 faceoffs this year. Winning faceoffs, especially in your own end, will be key if Sweden wants to make a run to the Gold medal, and the captain is expected to play a big role when it comes to ensuring his team gets the puck off the draw rather than the opposition.
The only concerning part of Lander’s game going into this tournament is penalties. Despite missing seven games this season, he currently leads EV Zug with 17 minor penalties this season. Games will be won and lost on special teams, and Sweden needs their captain to find a way to stay out of the box. If he can spend more time killing penalties than time spent in the box, Sweden shouldn’t have too many problems when it comes to shorthanded play.
Lander Ready to Represent His Country
Being the captain of your country at the Olympics is a high honor but comes with some serious expectations. Lander will need to be the emotional leader of this team and be one of if not the best player on the ice game after game. Sweden will rely heavily on the former Oiler to help them get back to the top of the podium, but he seems ready to lead the charge and claim Sweden’s third-ever Olympic Gold Medal.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.