Joey Anderson’s call-up is another chance to prove his worth with Maple Leafs
Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
By Nick Barden11 months ago
It was only a matter of time before Joey Anderson made his way up to the Maple Leafs’ roster.
When Nick Robertson went off holding his shoulder on Thursday night, it meant another player was to be called up to the NHL. There were a number of options that the Maple Leafs could’ve plucked from the Marlies, including Alex Steeves, Adam Gaudette, and Anderson.
All three players were more than deserving of being called up, in my opinion. Though the decision was always going to be a difficult one for Toronto.
With a left-shot player going down, I thought Steeves would’ve been given the opportunity. It makes sense — a left-shot goes down, why not bring a left-shot in? Before Friday night’s game in Syracuse, the 23-year-old tallied 20 points in his first 22 games this season. A great beginning of the year for Steeves.
However, Anderson has played just as good. Maybe even a tad better, scoring 19 points in his first 21 games this season.
“He’s a guy that has come up here a couple of times over my time here and I think has done well in a very short window of time,” said Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe on Friday. “And then each time he goes down to the Marlies, he really is a true leader for them down there, in all facets.
“And the coaching staff really likes and appreciates his game. He’s been productive offensively, a hardworking guy. So I think it’s just the timing was right, but the reality is we sped things up a little bit here given the injury situation. But he’s a guy we were looking at calling up here quite soon anyhow.”
When looking at his game, the 24-year-old brings a lot to the table. Anderson plays in all situations when with the Marlies, including penalty kill, power play, and when the net is empty. Expect him to be on the penalty kill with the Maple Leafs when he does get into the lineup.
Anderson doesn’t have a ton of foot speed and that hinders his game a bit when coming up to the NHL. However, he’s usually able to make it up with his smarts, positioning himself in the right place at the right time for a scoring chance.
The 24-year-old often finds his goals from in front of the net. He’s a very strong net-front presence and is usually a player who’s difficult to remove from in and around the crease. That’s his bread and butter.
Anderson is very good on the other side of the puck, too. He’s very reliable in the defensive zone and is often the player who’s able to find the puck before breaking out of his end.
“When you’re watching video after (the game) and clipping our structure and things we’re asking of the player, there’s probably no better player on the team that is executing everything that we ask,” Marlies head coach Greg Moore said of Anderson earlier this season.
“He always knows his role and responsibility in every situation, whether he’s F1, F2, or F3 for the forwards in our structure and leads by example in everything that he does.”
Anderson found himself back in the AHL after five games with the Maple Leafs last season. This time — with another year of experience under his belt — the 24-year-old will be the one deciding whether he remains there or is back with the Marlies in a few games.
He’s got some brand new dad strength, so he could remain with the Maple Leafs for a while.
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