Boy, did the Blue Jackets miss Josh Anderson this year.
In a season full of injuries and lack of scoring threats, Anderson's prowess would have been a huge help.
Instead, he played only 26 games, notching 1-3-4 while clearly playing through pain. He played his last game for the Blue Jackets this season on December 14th, then underwent left shoulder surgery on March 2nd. The surgery was performed to correct a posterior labral tear and his recovery is expected to be four-to-six months.
Anderson will be an RFA after the current NHL season officially ends, which is up in the air. Many formats have been proposed to continue the season, but there's a growing sense that the season will end up permanently canceled and the league will begin anew in October.
Drew Doughty, on conference call with media: "I don't see how this season is going to return."— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 13, 2020
Many Blue Jackets fans will remember Anderson's holdout prior to the 2017-18 season when he was an RFA. It will be quite interesting to see how this round goes, due to Anderson's injury history.
But make no mistake, folks. The Blue Jackets need to do everything possible to ensure both sides are happy and Anderson is ready to go as soon as he's healthy.
In the 2018-19 campaign, Anderson notched 27-20-47 in his third full NHL season. The speedy winger was improving each year, and 2019-20 was poised to be an ascent to stardom. Instead, it was ruined by injuries.
Along with being a proven scorer, what Anderson brings to the ice each night can't always be quantified by box scores. His hustle, especially on the forecheck, creates opportunities for other skaters. He's a hard hitter and has great speed for his size as well.
Anderson is integral to the John Tortorella brand of hockey. He uses his body, fights hard for every puck, and buys into the team mentality.
"(Anderson's) one of our best players...in the time he has spent with me and watching him develop, he is one hell of a hockey player."– Head Coach John Tortorella
Earlier this season, Tortorella had nothing but praise for Anderson:
"(Anderson's) one of our best players...in the time he has spent with me and watching him develop, he is one hell of a hockey player. He's on our power play now, he's killing penalties now, he's skating a regular shift. There is so much there that where I can in my mind project what he can be, he can be something special.
"The key with Josh is, does it get good to you or do you just keep on concentrating on getting better and better? That's the key for Josh. He has matured there tremendously."
It's clear that Tortorella holds Anderson in high esteem. The Blue Jackets are a different team when he's unable to take the ice, and they certainly felt the effects of that this year.
Hopefully, Anderson will return to form in time for the 2020-21 campaign (or the continuance of the current season). With Oliver Bjorkstrand, Cam Atkinson, Anderson, and Emil Bemstrom, the right side will be a great strength for the Blue Jackets.
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