Joey Anderson became a Toronto Maple Leafs’ player when he came from the New Jersey Devils in a trade for Andreas Johnsson on October 10, 2020. Given that the Maple Leafs were generally dumping salary in Johnsson, Anderson seemed like a pretty fair return for the salary-cap needy Toronto team.
Anderson Plays a Digging and Physical Game
Anderson is only average in size for an NHL player, standing 5-foot-11 and weighing 190 pounds. That said, he came to the team with the reputation of a player who’s not being afraid to play a physical game. In fact, in read several comparisons that saw him in the same vein as former Maple Leafs’ winger Zach Hyman. So, that can’t be bad. (from “Anderson can add a Zach Hyman element to Leafs, Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun, 11/10/20).
If you asked Anderson where his agressive streak came from, he’d tell you it’s a family trait. In an article written about Anderson after the October trade, he suggested that he’s “grown up in a competitive family. We just don’t play to lose, I guess. It’s do-anything-it-takes and that usually leads to playing with more aggression and getting a leg up on a guy you’re going into battle with. I try to channel that in a good way.”
His brother Mike is a defenseman with the Los Angeles Kings.
After Anderson was traded to the Maple Leafs, he signed a three-year deal with the team. It was a two-way contract for the first two years at $750,000. Then, if Anderson’s still with the Maple Leafs after two seasons – and his second season is coming up, the third season of the contract calls for him to receive a one-way deal.
Anderson Has the Skills
At every level he’s played, Anderson has demonstrated good puck skills. He’s also been able to score. It isn’t as if he’d be counted on to carry a heavy scoring load on this strong Maple Leafs’ roster, although adding some secondary scoring would be a benefit.
Anderson’s also a good skater and a good shot; however, it’s his bulldog nature that would likely be of most benefit to the Maple Leafs, especially now that Hyman has departed to the Edmonton Oilers.
As well, for the past two seasons, the Maple Leafs have made it known they they want to be a team that’s tougher to play against. That’s an area where Anderson might help. If he can play regularly, the 23-year-old right-winger could turn out to be a huge value for the Maple Leafs.
But, he’s got to be able to develop the way the organization believes he can. And he doesn’t seem to be there yet. Looking ahead at this season, the question remains whether Anderson will have a chance to develop with the Maple Leafs or with the AHL Toronto Marlies?
It Looks As If Anderson’s Home Might Be in the AHL
When the Maple Leafs’ current roster is studied and the placement of the 13 forwards are moved around the board, there really seems to be little chance that Anderson will be able to make the roster out of training camp. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t. But realistically it would likely mean he’d have to have a killer camp and prove there’s a spot for him somewhere on the team – likely on the bottom-six.
Really, looking at his skill set, Anderson’s one of those players could contribute throughout the lineup. I’ve heard it said that he really doesn’t have a weakness; however, on the other hand, there’s nothing he’s amazing at. He’s likely a solid bottom-six forward who’d play solidly wherever he’d be placed in the lineup. He did that with the Devils.
The fact is that he’s not lacking, but he’s not really excelling either.
Prediction? What Happens to Anderson to Start the 2021-22 Season?
Anderson has shown offensive abilities both in the AHL and (sometimes) at the NHL level. He scored 15 goals and 34 points in 44 games with the Binghamton Devils in 2019-20. He also scored eight goals in 53 NHL games (for a 13-goal pace over an 82-game schedule). He play’s a 200-foot game and has been a good penalty killer in both the AHL and the NHL.
Still, as noted, unless he has an absolutely great camp, he’s probably headed for the Marlies, at least to start the season. The fly in that ointment of those Maple Leafs’ plans is that he’d have to clear waivers; and, there might just be an NHL general manager who already has Anderson on his radar.
My prediction is that Anderson won’t make the Maple Leafs’ roster and the organization will hope he can sneak through waivers untouched. I’m not sure that can happen. Ergo, my best prediction is that he might be plucked off waivers by another NHL team who needs a middle-six player who’s a bit like a bulldog on the ice and who wins his share of puck battles.
That player might just be Joey Anderson. The bottom line is there’s a good chance Anderson might not be long with this Maple Leafs’ team.
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