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Anderson could use versatility to make Devils roster

Forward prospect eager to start 'climbing up the ranks'

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Joey Anderson appears physically and mentally ready for whatever plan the New Jersey Devils have for him this season.

The 20-year-old forward, who won a bronze medal with the United States as captain at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in January before helping the University of Minnesota Duluth to its second NCAA Division I men's ice hockey championship three months later, has one goal: to begin his professional career at the highest level possible.

"There's a great opportunity here in New Jersey and I think it's a great time for me to start climbing up the ranks," Anderson said at Devils development camp last week. "I'm ready to take on the challenge of pro hockey because that's where I want to be.

"Management has said there are spots available and it'll come down to who comes out of [training] camp ready to go and I want to show the progress I've made from when I was here in April until now. When I return in September I want to be even better and prove how serious I am about this."

Since signing his three-year, entry-level contract with the Devils on April 15, Anderson (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) has put on nine pounds. Selected in the third round (No. 73) of the 2016 NHL Draft, he is considered one of New Jersey's more versatile prospects.

"Hockey is a passion for him. It's not just a game," Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. "He can play the power play, kill penalties and can play the net front. He's a complementary winger for a skilled center because he can do the grunt work. He's strong on pucks, has good vision, can make plays in the offensive zone and knows how to get pucks out."

It wouldn't surprise many if Anderson earned a spot in the Devils lineup out of training camp.

"He's a guy who could make it hard on us to send him to Binghamton (of the American Hockey League)," Fitzgerald said. "And the next thing you know you're starting the year with him."

Anderson had 64 points (23 goals, 41 assists) and was plus-25 in 75 games for his NCAA career. His brother, defenseman Michael Anderson, also plays for Minnesota Duluth and was a fourth-round pick (No. 103) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Joey Anderson said he wanted to do more at development camp than impress with his play.

"I view it as a time where I can put my leadership skills to good use, help some of the younger guys who might be nervous at their first camp," Anderson said. "I want to come in and make an impression and want to send a message that I'm ready to go. I want to send the message that I'm serious and not so much in that I'm looking to impress people more than just wanting to show management the kind of person I am. I want to play hard and help out in any way."

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