The dynamic duo of Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows were near unstoppable on the US NTDP's top line this season. The two scored at a historic rate and rightfully have drawn a lot of attention as prospects that will go in the first half of the first round in the Draft. But the third member of that line, forward Joey Anderson shouldn't be overlooked either. Anderson is a tremendous player and one that should be picked very early in the NHL Draft.
Player: Joey Anderson
Team: US NTDP U18
Position: Right wing
Height: 5'11" Weight: 190 lbs.
Stats: 64 games, 27 goals, 30 goals, 57 points
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 56th among North American skaters
What I Like:
-Heavy shot with quick release
Anderson has a really strong upper body and is a great natural shooter, allowing him to get off a heavy shot without much time and space. In this first clip, Anderson pulls the puck in towards his body to create a shooting lane, and still has the strength to get enough on his shot to beat the goalie:
In this next clip, Anderson controls a rebound in front of the net and is able to elevate the puck quickly to finish off the play:
He didn't get as much credit as a goal scorer this year playing on the same line as Kieffer Bellows, a likely top-20 pick purely on the basis of his ability to shoot the puck, but Anderson is a sniper in his own right with big goal-scoring potential.
One area where I don't think Anderson gets the credit he deserves is the way he makes smart little plays to open up ice for teammates, either by positioning or by making a quick little pass. Playing with two star players in Keller and Bellows last season, Anderson was always making smart little plays to get those two the puck and let them take advantage f their enormous talent. He made those two better players rather than dragging down the line.
Anderson is a very competitive player that plays with a high motor. He battles for loose pucks and attacks the opposition hard to take away time and space and create turnovers. Though he's got a big enough shot from the perimeter to be effective there, he isn't afraid to fight his way to the front of the net. He's a player that gets the most out of what he has.
What I Don't Like:
-Lacks breakaway speed
Anderson's foot speed is just average, and he's got a bit of a short stride which limits his abilities to make plays in the open ice. He's a much better player zone-to-zone than when he has to go up-and-down the ice.
This is one where I disagree with NHL Central Scouting and the conventional wisdom. Central Scouting has Anderson going in the early-third round, whereas I think he's right on the border of the first round. I'm not sure if a team will reach enough to take him that high, but I could see a team selecting him in the middle of the second round.
As a best case scenario, I see Anderson developing into a Patrick Sharp-type of player that uses his tremendous shot and hockey smarts to be a very effective secondary scorer on the wing. Even on the low end, I think he could be effective as a bottom line winger because of his tough play and understanding of the game.