Compared to 2017, this summer should be a quieter one for Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson. Last summer, the Blue Jackets went out of their way to protect the big forward in the expansion draft before Anderson skipped training camp in a contract dispute. He eventually signed a three-year, $5.55 million-dollar deal on the eve of the new season that has become one of the biggest bargains on the club’s payroll.
Anderson set new career bests in goals (19) and points (30) while missing almost a quarter of the season, tying for the team lead with five game-winning goals. He drastically reduced his penalty minutes (42 from 89) while seeing his on-ice time jump and helped carry the Jackets through the first portion of the season.
Anderson, who averaged 12 minutes a night in 2016-17, held the team lead in goals through late February before Artemi Panarin caught him. He scored 10 goals by December 2 and finished fourth on the team, falling just one short of the magical 20-goal plateau. His CF% improved from 46.9 to 53.5 and coach John Tortorella leaned on him throughout the season to the tune of a 59.1 offensive zone start percentage, up almost 15 points from the year before—no easy feat for a guy who willingly missed camp. He also ranked second on the team in entries per 60 minutes and third in shot contributions per 60 minutes...not bad for a guy with a $1.85 million cap hit.
The forward saw his numbers dip with the calendar change, scoring only one goal in the month of January and three in Feburary before a Dmitry Orlov hip check caused him to miss five weeks with a knee injury. He returned for the final two games of the season and picked up a goal and two assists in the playoff series against Washington, famously missing most of Game 1 for a hit on Michael Kempny late in the first period.
Josh Anderson 2017-18 Stats
Games played: 63
Time on ice: 18:02
Penalty Minutes: 42
Corsi For (even strength): 53.5%
Gotta be December 1 against the Anaheim Ducks. Anderson scored twice (including once on the power play) and earned an assist for a three point night. Not to be overlooked: he took a hit from Zdeno Chara in October and stood up to the Slovakian legend, actually getting a few licks in during one of Chara’s rare fights.
It’s easy to put the Kempny hit here, but he never should’ve been tossed and the Blue Jackets ended up winning that game. Let’s go with February 18 against the Pittsburgh Penguins instead. Anderson registered only one shot, went -2 and played a measly 15:44 in a 5-2 home rout. That loss prompted a ton of “Will this team make the playoffs?” talk before the team eventually righted the ship in March (while Anderson recovered from injury).