Last summer, a team of Blue Jackets prospects traveled up to Traverse City, Mich., for a prospect tournament, and took home the hardware.
But on a team with first-rounders Alexander Wennberg, Kerby Rychel, Marko Dano and Sonny Milano, and a slew of other highly-touted prospects, it was a former fourth rounder who made the biggest impact.
That shouldn’t be surprising to those familiar with Josh Anderson — his 6-foot-3, 218 pound power forward is pretty hard to miss out there on the ice. And in Traverse City, the 20-year-old’s size and physicality set him apart from his peers. He parlayed that into four goals during the tournament — with three game-winners.
His last goal came in overtime in the final game to win the tournament for the Blue Jackets' rookies.
"We had a lot of good talent on our team,” said Anderson. "I had a big summer of training so I expected big things, and just played my game down there."
From there, he moved on to training camp and opened the season in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons. His first professional season didn’t go so well at first, as he opened the season on a 24-game goal-less drought.
"I had a bit of a slow start, it’s been a bit of an adjustment,” said Anderson. “It probably took about 10 or 15 games to get used to the pace but after that I felt pretty calm out there.”
A January injury to winger Jack Skille led the Blue Jackets to recall Anderson from Springfield. And Anderson looked like he belonged — delivering some hard hits and creating scoring chances. He registered one assist in his six-game NHL stint before being sent back down to Springfield.
Now, the goal is to get back to Columbus — and stick there.
“It’s every kid’s dream to play in the NHL and when I went up there I just tried to play my own game. Playing in the AHL and getting called up, you just have to keep playing your own game,” said Anderson. "I think I played up there and they liked the way I played so hopefully I get more opportunities."
Anderson’s physicality made him a good fit alongside center Brandon Dubinsky, so that’s where he played during his NHL debut. And Anderson had high praise for his former, and perhaps future, centerman.
"He’s a great player, with a lot of good hockey sense. He’s a leader on and off the ice,” said Anderson. “He'll be able to find you on the ice wherever you are. It was good to be playing with big-time players like him."