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Josh Anderson Resurgence Perfect Timing For Montreal Canadiens



Montreal Canadiens

Josh Anderson has stepped up in a big way for the injury-plagued Montreal Canadiens, and the timing couldn’t be better.

The Canadiens’ power forward has scored three goals in Montreal’s last three games and has five goals in ten games in the month of January so far.

His 14 goals on the season place him third on the team behind Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki, but it’s his improved implication in the offensive zone that is most intriguing.

Although the underlying numbers still don’t fancy Anderson’s play ( 40% controlled chances and 41% expected goals differential, according to Natural Stattrick), the eye test is a sure pass.

He’s played just shy of 17 minutes a night on average over his last ten games, and now finds himself on a top line with Suzuki and Rem Pitlick; which has shown good chemistry since the loss of Caufield to injury.

He’s catching fire at the right time and playing up to his standards, creating an enviable situation for general manager Kent Hughes.

Timing Is Everything

The timing of Anderson’s resurgence couldn’t come at a better time for the Canadiens; and that, for a couple of reasons.

First off, the Canadiens are incredibly depleted at this time, with over five regular forwards out of the lineup (Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky, Jonathan Drouin, Sean Monahan and Brendan Gallagher).

The Canadiens are also playing with 11 forwards at the moment, putting even more of a strain on their top players like Suzuki and Anderson.

However, during this adversity, Anderson has played his best hockey of the season and has almost doubled his goal total in the last month.

The other thing to keep in consideration is the fast upcoming NHL Trade Deadline.

The Canadiens aren’t actively shopping Josh Anderson, but his performances of late are surely to stoke the fires of interested NHL GMs that could feel they’re close to making a move for the Stanley Cup in the next three years.

In conversation with an NHL executive who chose to remain anonymous, the feeling was that teams had taken note of Anderson’s bump in play and that his resurgence in the face of adversity goes much farther than meets the eye.

“You watch games like tonight, and he looked like the best player on both teams,” said the executive regarding Anderson’s play against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. “That kind of ability, especially in tough, rivalry games is exactly what teams want to add at Trade Deadline. I’d be very interested to see if someone pays the price. Teams will be calling for sure.”

Déjà Vu?

All Anderson’s performances do is increase Kent Hughes’ positioning, as he is not openly shopping his power forward.

But, a few teams could kick tires aggressively enough that they could make an offer simply too good to pass up.

That’s exactly what happened with former Canadiens forward Arturri Lehkonen last season, as the intent was not to trade him. However, former Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic had targeted Lehkonen and made multiple offers until he eventually made a final offer that was too good to refuse for Kent Hughes.

Similarly to Lehkonen, Anderson is heating up in January thanks to some extra minutes. Fans didn’t want to move a player like Lehkonen either, but the momentum was too strong and the offer was too good for Hughes to pass up.

Anderson’s physical play, goal-scoring ability and leadership qualities are usually in high demand, with teams like the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils and more currently in the market for some physical, scoring punch on the wings.

Whether the Canadiens do ever intend to trade Anderson or not, all his improved play does is increase his value to the Canadiens; be it on the ice or in trade talks; a win-win situation for Hughes.

**This article does not suggest the Canadiens must trade Josh Anderson**

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