No Montreal, New Jersey Devils Do Not Need Josh Anderson

Josh Anderson #17 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
Josh Anderson #17 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /

Throughout the 2022 offseason, there were many storylines the New Jersey Devils tied to. From trading the second-overall pick to trading Jesper Bratt when it became clear they could be heading to arbitration, there was plenty of noise. Perhaps the most egregious story was one from the neighbors up north: Montreal. Specifically, a trade for veteran forward Josh Anderson. This was further expanded upon when Tony Marinaro of The Sick Podcast mentioned a few days ago that the Devils were very interested in bringing in Josh Anderson and would trade a “young player” for him.

On first viewing, a trade for Anderson makes sense for the Devils. He is a big, powerful player who is extremely quick along the ice. He also brings that physical element that many fans claim the Devils lack. So, what’s the holdup?

Unfortunately for Anderson and the Habs, the compliments end there. A big factor preventing an Anderson trade is his cap hit. Anderson’s contract has an AAV of $5.5 M until the end of the 2027 season. The Devils cannot make this deal unless they keep Bernier on LTIR or move one of Tatar or Johnsson. That’s not even considering the free agents this offseason, including Jesper Bratt, Yegor Sharangovich, Damon Severson, and Mackenzie Blackwood.

So the cap hit is a big concern and could alter a lot of the roster’s future. Perhaps Anderson is a young forward with loads of potential and is on the cusp of breaking out. Sadly, this is not the case either. Keeping in mind that he is 28 at the moment and will be 33 when the contract ends, there is not much time for improvement in his play.

Josh Anderson is a Daisy Buchanan figure in NHL media. A player who is seen as an extremely valuable piece or asset but truly does not play like one. Anderson’s career-high point total came in the 2018-19 season, where he scored 47 points in 82 games. Now, that is fairly decent production for the cap hit. The issue with Anderson is that he has struggled to get back to that level. His career high since was 32 points last year, albeit on an abhorrent Montreal team. That’s the thing; he is a complementary piece on a good roster/contender. He isn’t a top-line forward.

Piggybacking off this, Anderson also has very legitimate injury concerns. In his career, he has only played 82 games once and over 70 games twice. Of the available games he could play from 2014-2022, Anderson has only suited up to play in 57% of them. He is not a reliable player when looking from an availability standpoint.

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Then comes the reported cost of the trade. According to Montreal Media, they would like a top prospect back in any trade, with guys like Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec, and Seamus Casey in mind. the youngest Hughes brother and the Devils second-overall pick from this past year are both non-starters, but even a guy like Casey, who is having a brilliant freshman year at Michigan, is way too much value back for a guy like Anderson. Mukhamudullin or Gritsyuk come to mind, but the demand, in my opinion, does not meet their value.

In the end, I do not think the Devils will trade for Anderson, nor do I want them to. He is an average player who GMs like due to his “grit” and “tenacity.” The Devils have more than enough depth on the roster to hold them to the deadline. This team’s only real need is a top-line winger, which Anderson is not. This screams Montreal media trying to stir up drama, noise, and controversy around a player who they believe could fetch a large return, but in reality, his contract, and ability, to be frank, makes it hard to associate a big trade with his name.