Through 12 games, the Montreal Canadiens have been very good, posting an 8-2-2 record. A huge part of the team’s success is coming from newcomer Josh Anderson. Anderson, who had only one goal in 22 games, has more than proven that his shoulder injury hampered him to play his best.
When the Candiens got him, they were probably hoping he’d return to his 27-goal form from the 2018-19 season. Well, in fact, it’s early but he looks like he can consistently score at a 30-35 goal pace. During the first part of the season he has had eight goals in 12 games, which puts him second behind fellow newcomer Tyler Toffoli in goals. However, Toffoli has eight of his nine goals against his former team the Vancouver Canucks, which just shows that he is a serious Canucks killer. Whereas Anderson’s goal scoring is much more spread out, causing him to be the more dangerous option on any given night. This is why it shouldn’t be a shocker to believe that Anderson will lead the team in goals.
Anderson is not a pure goal scorer, but his speed and size allow him to drive the net and score a great number of goals. It has been known for a long time that general manager Marc Bergevin has been wanting a strong, goal-scoring power forward ever since he was in on Milan Lucic back in the summer of 2016 (Thank god, Lucic didn’t sign). However, he got the guy he was looking for in Anderson.
At the time of the trade, it looked that the Blue Jackets fleeced Bergevin in the Max Domi-Anderson deal — this was also keeping in mind that Anderson had 20-goal potential but Domi was still believed to have 70-point potential. However, the truth was that Domi had fallen out of favour with the Habs at centre and struggled on the wing, so the team sold Domi for the type of guy they wanted for awhile. Even though they paid a high price to get a guy who had potential and hadn’t consistently proven anything, it worked out well. As it stands today, Domi is struggling in Columbus, while Anderson is fitting in amazingly in Montreal.
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Anderson does more for his team than just score. The fact that he can hit and play a good two-way game shows that he will remain valuable to the team even when he hits a scoring slump, which will happen as his 0.67 goals per game is just not sustainable. However, even with that being said, Anderson should definitely be able to pass Toffoli as he is able to create more of his own offense. That’s not to discredit Toffoli, it’s just that Anderson’s tools will allow him to score more goals than just being a skilled shooter.
The most impressive thing about Anderson’s eight goals is that he’s managed to get three game-winners already in just 12 games. This shows just how clutch he can be for this team going forward. While he can score in the season, this gives a lot of hope that his goal scoring can transition to the postseason as well. His most clutch-worthy goal came this past Saturday afternoon when he scored to put the Canadiens up 2-1 for good against the Ottawa Senators in a game where the team struggled to get offense.
Anderson’s Future Going Forward
Anderson’s seven-year, $38.5 million contract is a pretty hefty one on the surface. However, if he can play to the level he has shown, this will be a very good contract. If he can continue to play at this level long term, he and Nick Suzuki will form a dynamic duo. He is looking like he could be a perennial 30-goal scorer alongside his centre. They have shown that they have great chemistry as their skills complement each other. However, that is a best-case scenario as Anderson also has a history of injuries that held him back last season, therefore it is possible that it could happen again for his future.
For now, though, Anderson has been one of the best players consistently on the offensive side while being strong on the defensive side as well. It will be interesting to see how things play out as his situation can be really good like it has in this short sample or go south like last season in Columbus. However, even if he can produce 20-25 goals and 100 hits per season, this would be a successful contract.
Bergevin gambled on Anderson’s potential and it has worked out very well. It can be argued that he is the player they were hoping former Canadiens draft pick Mike McCarron would be with a bit more offensive touch. Therefore, it makes sense that he is locked in long term as he is someone the team has wanted since Bergevin’s first full season.