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With Anderson contract solidified, the Jackets look to Opening Night

Kekalainen compared the journey Anderson will take to get into the lineup similar to that of a player returning from injury

by Alison Lukan AlisonL /

The Blue Jackets announced Tuesday that they signed Josh Anderson to a three-year contract. Now, the 23-year-old winger must get to Columbus, gear up, and get ready for the upcoming season.

"We were getting down to the crunch time with the NHL season starting tomorrow," general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "To get Josh here on time to start the season with us, (a deal) had to get done yesterday. These are important deals for our future to keep the team together."

As a Canadian, Anderson will have to get a Visa to come to the United States for work, and then he can travel to join his club. That process can take a few days. The next step will be for the Burlington native to join his teammates in practices and get into game shape. 

Video: Kekalainen on the Jackets prep for opening night

Head coach John Tortorella confirmed that Anderson will not draw into Friday's season opener against the New York Islanders. Kekalainen compared the journey Anderson will take to get into the lineup similar to that of a player returning from injury.

"Hopefully the first thing we see is that (Anderson) has put himself through practices that are as hard as what our guys have done during the training camp," Kekalainen said. "I think we'll be able to see that quite quickly. From there on, it's adjusting to the pace. He hasn't played any games yet. It will be a hard test to step into the regular season."

Tortorella has seen players make the leap into an 82-game season after missing part or all of a training camp. From the coach's perspective, he still plans to put Anderson through many of the same conditioning tests and drills that the other Jackets have worked through in the past 20 days.

Video: Tortorella's Blue Jackets get ready for opening night

"He's going to feel it," captain Nick Foligno said. "The body of work that we've done (in camp) is something you really can't replicate, so he's going to get put through the paces when he gets here. I hoped he trained hard and is in good shape, so he can hit the ground running because we need him to. He is going to be a big part of this team and has to be."

That is where the attitude stands right now around the Jackets organization. With a contract in place, the focus for the team and management is 100-percent on the game of hockey and the upcoming season.

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound winger promises to bring an important element to how the Blue Jackets will play this year and into the future. In his first full year in the NHL last season, Anderson scored 17 goals and 12 assists in 78 games.

"He gives us a nice element," Kekalainen said. "He is a big fast winger that can play a physical game. in general, we have a fast team, a young team. We have a good skill level. (Anderson) brings that other element too where he can really skate, play a physical game and put pressure on the defensemen to cause turnovers. And he can also score goals.

"The sooner we get him here the better."

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