When they selected Joey Anderson with the 73rd overall pick (3rd round) at the 2016 NHL Draft the New Jersey Devils knew they were getting a good player. Fast forward to a year and almost a month later, and now Anderson could turn out to be a steal of a pick for New Jersey that late in the draft.
The 19-year-old had a great showing at the recently completed Devils 2017 Development Camp and that came on the heels of a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Championships, as well as a collegiate season that saw his team fall one win short of an NCAA championship.
Anderson had a whirlwind of a year, but his young body was ready for more even after his season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth came to a crashing halt in the Frozen Four title game.
— The NCHC (@TheNCHC) April 12, 2017
“Well, to be honest not as drained as I would have thought (at the end of the season). After World Juniors it was pretty tiring and I was pretty drained,” he told The Hockey Writers, “but in mid-February, I was kind of ready to go again. Honesty after the season ended with Duluth it didn’t really feel like it was over, it felt like we were supposed to be still playing. After we lost we didn’t feel like we were done, we wanted to play tomorrow. It’s a long season, for sure, but they give us good rest and they make sure that we are ready to play when game time comes.”
Anderson was rested and ready to go when he arrived at Development Camp in the second week of July in New Jersey and it showed on the ice as his skills, speed, and hockey IQ was on display. Playing on a line with Miles Wood and Nico Hischier gave season ticket holders in attendance a brief glimpse into what the future may hold in New Jersey; and whoa, were they fast! Last season in his first go round at Devils camp he was maybe a little hesitant and finding his way following the whirlwind that is known as draft day.
“It’s been awesome, I think my overall comfort level here in New Jersey this year has been a lot better,” he told THW. “I know everybody now and made a couple of really good friends the first year. Now, being able to come back and expand on that and make even more friends – has been great. It helps when you’re playing on the ice and things like that when you’re more comfortable, you know the guys in the locker room. It made for a fun and enjoyable week overall.”
After his stellar campaign at UMD — tied for second on the team in points with 37 (12g-25a) in 39 games — there was some question that maybe the Devils wanted him to turn pro and had an interest in signing the Roseville, Minnesota native, but he says it never got there. So — we should keep tabs on him whenever this upcoming season with the Bulldogs ends.
“We haven’t had a discussion as far as this year. I’m (definitely) going back to Duluth for this upcoming season, so that was off the table but I don’t have a set plan,” Anderson told us. “I’ll be at Duluth this upcoming season, that’s set in stone. After this year we’ll reevaluate and the decision will be up to myself and the Devils to figure out what is the right spot for me. We’ll worry about that after the next season.”
There is no question that the Devils franchise is in a transition phase. The new regime has drafted and signed and traded for a plethora of new prospects over the past three years and over the next three seasons, we likely will see an influx of youth at the NHL and AHL levels. Anderson is in that mix. As well as New Jersey’s recent first round picks — Nico Hischier, Michael McLeod, Pavel Zacha, John Quenneville. A good indication of how the organizational depth has improved was at the 2017 Development Camp where they only had two players on tryouts (Bobo Carpenter, Nicolas Guay) of the 33 attendees.
For Anderson and others, it’s an exciting time to be part of what could become a young nucleus of a franchise trying to reclaim respectability in the NHL. “Yeah, it’s really cool. Obviously being in a rebuild can be tough for the fans, but we have pieces in here to make a good team in the years to come, and it’s pretty cool to think that you can be a part of that,” admitted Anderson. “That’s what I’m working on every day – to be a part of that lineup someday. That’s what the goal is.”
Further down the line maybe one day the Devils get themselves a rematch of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final and Joey Anderson finds himself competing against his younger brother Michael, who was recently drafted by the Los Angeles Kings (103rd overall/round 4). But for this upcoming season, the two brothers will be on the same team, trying to bring an NCAA championship back to UMD.
— Gerry Anderson (@GT_Anderson14) June 25, 2017
“It was so cool (to see my brother get drafted),” Anderson told THW with a huge smile from ear-to-ear. “I get more nervous for him than I do myself. Sitting there (in Chicago) and being there when it happened was a pretty cool moment for me to see him get drafted.”
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.