People in front offices and locker rooms across the NHL knew about Josh Anderson long before this season.
But to the casual hockey fan, this season was his introduction, and it was an impressive one at that. Mr. Anderson may not be The One, but he's a unique hybrid in this day and age of hockey: fast, physical and able to alter the course of a hockey game with both his skill and his hits.
Just two players in the top 20 in hits in the NHL this year scored more than 25 goals -- Anderson, who had 214 hits to place 19th in the league while scoring 27 goals, and Alex Ovechkin, who had 223 hits to place 16th in the NHL while scoring a league-best 51 goals.
While Anderson -- much to his chagrin -- has often been compared to Washington's Tom Wilson for his combination of physical play and skill, perhaps its Wilson's Capitals teammate who could be a comparison.
Video: Anderson on the support from the fans
After all, while Anderson might never have Ovechkin's otherworldly shot, he does appear to be someone who will keep scoring more goals as he gets older. He's gone from 17 goals in his first full season two years ago to 19 last year to the high-water mark of 27 this year at age 24. And Anderson thinks he's got more to give as he continues to mature.
"I think that I had a good year but obviously there's a lot of room for improvement," the Ontario native said. "Hopefully I'll come back next year and be ready to go and have another good year."
Where does he think he can get better? Skating, to him, is an obvious one, as that's something that can always get better despite his incredible speed. But by and large, he wants to keep getting better in all facets of the game, befitting someone head coach John Tortorella called one of the team's best players down the stretch.
"I'm talking about everything (improving)," Anderson said. "Obviously you work on your shot and your hands and I'm definitely going to be watching a little more video of this season and what I can work on. I didn't do that enough over the previous years, but I think that's going to only help me be a better player. See what I have to work on. And maybe holding on to pucks a little bit longer and using the body that I have to get around guys."
Video: CBJ@TBL, Gm1: Anderson ties it with shorthanded goal
In the postseason, Anderson was one of the most impactful Blue Jackets in the sweep of Tampa Bay, getting under the skin of the Bolts -- in particular his opposite No. 77, Victor Hedman -- and scoring the game-tying shorthanded goal in Game 1. But a shoulder injury suffered in Game 2 limited his effectiveness vs. Boston.
Still, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was impressed by the growth of Anderson throughout the season and sees more to come out of his big winger.
"Josh Anderson, what a beast," Kekalainen said. "He's just going to keep on getting better. He's a force. There's no reason why he shouldn't get better for next year. He scored 27 goals this year in the regular season, and you better be looking when he's coming to forecheck, where he's coming from. He's going to get stronger, he's going to get better."