The New Jersey Devils signed winger Joey Anderson to an entry-level contract (ELC) yesterday. The Roseville, Minnesota native is skating with the team today, and could suit up for game three. Anderson finished an illustrious career at Minnesota Duluth with a national championship. The 19-year old also also captained Team USA’s World Junior team in 2018, and was a member of the 2017 gold medal team.
The best word to describe Anderson is versatile, since he can play in all situations and excel. He is a very intelligent player and extremely hard worker. His work on the defensive end is valuable, but what he does best is filling multiple offensive roles in a lineup. He can play a rough grinding game, skilled playmaking style, and he can be an effective shooter. Whenever there is a need in any part of your lineup, it can be filled by Anderson.
Anderson projects to be a solid middle-six winger if he settles into the NHL. Training camp is about six months away, but it’s still safe to say Anderson currently has a high probability of earning a spot on New Jersey’s 2018-2019 roster. His play style seemingly fits Hynes’ system, well even if he exactly isn’t a speedy skater. Hynes has always favored players who can play multiple roles over skill— remember his early-season decision to keep Brian Gibbons and Blake Coleman over young forwards Joe Blandisi and John Quenneville (and the backlash it initially received).
The question now is if Joey Anderson can step in and play effective post-season hockey for the Devils. There is a huge jump between the NCAA and NHL, which made me weary of defenseman Will Butcher’s ability going into this season (He did prove me wrong). The playoffs however, are a whole different animal. I don’t think it would be prudent to play Anderson, especially when you have an able-bodied Jesper Bratt with NHL experience sitting readily in the press box. It will do Anderson good to immerse himself in this environment, but Coach Hynes shouldn’t put this game’s fragile nature at risk at the expense of giving a young forward his NHL debut.