Anton Lander is looking forward to reuniting with Magnus Paajarvi.
The two Swedes grew up playing with each other and could be together in an Edmonton Oilers uniform next season.
On Thursday, the Oilers announced they had signed Lander, a six-foot, 181-pound centre, to an entry-level contract.
“Magnus is one of my best friends,” said Lander on the phone from Sweden. “We’ve been playing together since we were 16 years old.
“It means a lot for me to have somebody I know and can trust on the team. If I have something to ask or if I need help with something, I have somebody there that I can ask.”
Lander, 20, was selected by the Oilers in the second round – 40th overall – of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
The native of Timra, Sweden, had 10 goals and 24 points with his hometown team this past season. He was also one of the final players cut for Sweden’s entry into the upcoming World Hockey Championships.
“Personally, I think I had a pretty good season,” Lander said. “I think my skating improved this year. I was also able to provide more to the team this year both on offence and defence.
“But our team didn’t make the playoffs, so it wasn’t all good. I want to be a winner, so not making the playoffs makes it a disappointing season. If the team doesn’t go far, you can’t really be very happy as a player.”
Lander has spent the past four seasons playing with Timra in the Swedish Elite League. He was drafted after making an impression in the league as a 17-year-old.
Lander attended the Oilers training camp last season and is hoping to challenge for a roster spot in October.
“I’m excited that I was able to sign a contract,” Lander said. “When I talked to Magnus about the team and then met (GM) Steve Tambellini a couple of weeks ago, everything felt right. I’m glad that Edmonton drafted me, from all I’ve heard they’re a really good organization that really care about their players and really take care of them.
“I’m going to try and do whatever it takes next season, whether it’s in Oklahoma City or with the Oilers. I’m going to work as hard as I can to try and help the team.”
Despite not getting a chance to play in the World Championships this year with Paajarvi and Linus Omark, Lander has represented his country in the past.
He took part in two World Under-18 tournaments and also played at the World Junior Hockey championships in Saskatoon and Regina, where Sweden claimed the bronze medal.
He’ll therefore come to training camp next season, somewhat familiar with the smaller North American ice surface.
“I’ve actually played maybe five or six tournaments in North America on the smaller ice,” Lander said. “I like it a lot. With the smaller ice you have to be ready every second, you can’t relax.
“I’m really excited to come over and show what I can do.”