The middle of the 2016 NHL Draft is underway and the New Jersey Devils will certainly be active with multiple picks in the third and the fourth rounds. For their first pick of the third round, the Devils selected Joey Anderson out of the United States National Team Developmental Program with the seventy-third overall pick.
My initial reaction comes with a shrug. There were plenty of players falling to the third round that I would have expected to have been picked in the second round like Will Bitten, Cliff Pu, and Cam Dineen. And those three - and others - were picked a few picks ahead of the Devils. So it goes in a draft. Anyway, Anderson. A quick look at Elite Prospects shows that he's another right winger. Anderson is a right-shooting right winger and he had a big World Junior U-18 tournament with seven goals in nine games. I can get behind that. He's not particularly large but I wouldn't call him all that small at 5'11" and 190 pounds. He'll be going to the University of Minnesota-Dulutu, so the Devils can take their time with him in college.
Chris Dilks at SBN College Hockey has a profile on the player that's worth initial reading. Dilks notes that his skating is average, which isn't encouraging. Not being particularly big and not fast isn't a great combination. Being smart and hard worker are OK, but I really do like that shot that Dilks highlighted.
Video is certainly available on Anderson, I've got two that will be instructive about Anderson's game. Two that may sway your opinion on him. Both come from bigwhite06. This first one is a highlight video of a game Anderson played in November 13, 2015:
Anderson had a big World Juniors U-18 tournament this Spring. bigwhite06 has a highlight video of Anderson lighting it up with the United States:
I'd like to think the latter video got a lot more scouts and teams interested in the player. He definitely used his shot well and his shot, well, looks quite good.
As far as profiles go, again, go read Dilks' as linked earlier in this post. Joseph Aelong has this profile on the forward at The Hockey Writers. Here's a section that stood out to me:
While Anderson’s combination of skating, shot, and tenacity is an attractive quality for undersized forwards in today’s NHL (in the same mould as Chicago’s Andrew Shaw and Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher), his two-way game is still very much a work in progress. At this stage in his development, Anderson is more of a supporting player than a leading scorer, as he rode shotgun to the USNTDP’s top two scorers all year. While he’s a relatively strong skater, smaller players need to be excellent skaters to excel in the NHL, and Anderson could definitely stand to clean up his footwork and improve his top end speed to become more effective against bigger and stronger opponents. His ceiling may he limited in the NHL, but he can be an effective secondary scorer and all-around presence if his upwards trajectory continues at the NCAA level.
I can agree with Aelong that Anderson will need to sharpen up off the puck and on offense to get to the next level. And given what Dilks wrote, I'm not surprised that Aelong also thinks Anderson needs to become faster. The good news is that Anderson can work on all that and more in college. I fully expect that Anderson will be with Minnesota-Duluth for as long as it is necessary; he'll be one to wait on. But I also think he could be worth that wait if only to bolster the team's wingers in the future.
All the same, I welcome Joey Anderson to the New Jersey Devils organization. I wish him the best of luck in his development within the organization.
Now that you know my quick take and know a bit more about the player, please have your say about the pick in the comments. Do you think it was a good pick or not and why? What do you expect this player will become for the Devils? Of course, don't forget to vote in our quick poll on the selection. Thank you for reading.