In this edition of Three Things presented by Wawa, we take a look at Joey Anderson, a Right Wing for the New Jersey Devils.
Over the last two seasons, Joey Anderson has become a key part in the Devils youthful core and future of the franchise. Anderson hails from Minnesota, and spent two years at the University of Minnesota Duluth before signing an entry-level contract after his sophomore year and joined the Devils organization.
He has spent time both in Binghamton and Newark over the past two years, and has seen strong improvements during this time. Anderson attended training camp ahead of this last season but was one of the cuts, sending the forward to Binghamton to start the year. Here's what you need to know about Joey Anderson and his 2019-20 season.
1. Building Confidence in Binghamton
After Anderson didn't make the Devils roster out of training camp, the forward reported to Binghamton to get to work. He wanted to develop his game and gain confidence during his time in the AHL. Anderson played 34 games in the NHL the previous year, so he had a good taste of what it takes to compete in the league.
Binghamton Devils Head Coach Mark Dennehy was impressed by Anderson's drive to improve throughout the 2019-20 season. When he discussed the reasons for Anderson's success he mentioned Anderson growing his confidence through capitalizing on chances.
"He's a very responsible player, wasn't giving a lot up, but he wasn't capitalizing," explained Dennehy back in March. "And it probably wasn't until, 10 or 12 games in that all of a sudden, the puck started going in the net for him again, but he didn't change the way he played defensively. He was just taking advantage of the chances that he got. You could see his confidence growing."
Through Anderson's 44 games with Binghamton, the forward scored 15 goals and contributed 19 assists for a total of 34 points. He was 6th in scoring and assists for the team and fifth in goals, even though he played at least five games less than all those in spots ahead of him. His impact was seen in the AHL, as well as his development. As a result, he returned to the Devils main roster in February.
2. Return to the Main Squad
Anderson made his season debut for the Devils on February 4th in New Jersey's game against the Montreal Canadiens. When Interim Head Coach Alain Nasreddine discussed what he was expecting out of Anderson with the main club, he stressed relying on what he learned in Binghamton.
"To bring that swagger that he found in Binghamton. He's a good player, played a simple game," said Nasreddine in a pre-game availability on February 4th. "He's done a good job in Binghamton on both the penalty kill and power play."
From his return at the start of February, to the NHL pause in March, Anderson contributed four goals and two assists for six points over 19 games. His goals total this season matched his four goals from the 2019-19 season in 16 fewer games.
A particularly big moment for Anderson this year was his goal that sealed a 4-2 win over the top ranked Western Conference opponent, the St. Louis Blues. Anderson scored the empty-net goal with 57 seconds left to help the Devils win one of their final games of the 2019-20 season over the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
3. Looking Forward
As Anderson heads into year three of his entry level contract with the Devils, the goal will be to make the Devils roster coming out of training camp. With an extended off-season, the forward will have time to train and improve during the summer months. Someone to help Anderson with his training is brother Mikey, who made his NHL debut for the Los Angeles Kings when they hosted the Devils in February. Both brothers are back home in Minnesota spending time with their family and preparing for the 2020-21 season.
As can be expected with siblings, a healthy rivalry is well underway. Back in March, the brothers competed in an intense shootout in their garage. There were seven games with 15 shots each per game. Whoever scored the most was deemed champion and won a pack of toilet paper.
Mikey did come out on top in the competition, so Joey will have to continue to step up his game against his brother. Regardless, Anderson will have a chance to train with another NHL player and continue his development all while getting some quality family time, an NHL season typically does not allow.