Now that his North American season is over, Anton Lander is heading to the KHL. According to multiple reports including Igor Eronko of Sport-Express, the Edmonton Oilers forward and pending restricted free agent has signed with Ak Bars of the KHL, a team rumored to have an agreement with him since March. Magnus Hellberg, who spent this season with the Hartford Wolfpack and New York Rangers, will also be heading overseas to sign with Kunlun of the KHL according to RSport.
Lander actually spent time with the Oilers as a “Black Ace” during the playoffs, but played just 22 games for the club this season. Most of his time was spent in the AHL where he continued to be a force, scoring 55 points in 42 games. Other than a successful stint in the NHL in 2014-15 when he scored 20 points in 38 games, Lander has never been able to put it together at the top level in North America, instead bouncing back and forth between leagues. As an arbitration-eligible RFA, the Oilers would have needed to give Lander a $1.05MM qualifying offer to retain his rights, though it did not have to be a one-way deal because he cleared waivers this year.
Hellberg, who was actually set to become a Group VI free agent this summer, played in two games for the Rangers this season and actually played just fine, stopping 26 of 28 shots. His numbers in the AHL weren’t so rosy but still good enough for the team to likely want to keep him around. The 6’6″ goaltender has shown plenty of promise through his career thus far, though perhaps not enough to warrant the second-round pick Nashville spent on him in 2011. Just two years ago, the Rangers acquired him for a sixth-rounder and now will watch him head to the KHL. The 26-year old has a chance to return to North America one day if he can find more consistency.