By JD Lagrange – Ah the topic of Josh Anderson amongst Habs’ fans. God knows why, it’s been everywhere on social media for the past two years. In fact, there’s a French expression that my Grandpa used to say: “Seul Dieu le sait et le diable s’en doute“. Translated, it means “Only God knows it and the devils is suspecting it”.
As we all know, Marc Bergevin was a master as big trades. He’s won rather handedly most of them, with the exception of Jonathan Drouin. In one of those trades, he turned Alex Galchenyuk into Max Domi, who ended up having a 72 points season. Then, seeing Domi’s production drop, he traded him for one of the rarest breeds, a power-forward in Josh Anderson. Galchenyuk and Domi have since been bouncing around the NHL while Anderson averages close to 25 goals per 82 games since joining the Habs.
However, for a reason that I just can’t wrap my head around, there is a decent size group of fans who want to see him traded. Some feel he’s not worth the $5.5 million he’s getting or that the Canadiens need the cap space. Others feel he doesn’t fit the “window” of winning for the Canadiens, as if they can’t use him now. And you have some whom, by reading their crystal ball, feel like his production is about to drop to nothing, although he’s shown no signs of that. Most, because they share the same vision, believe in all three reasons we’ve just mentioned. I don’t blame them, it’s actually typical of this fan base, amongst others I’m sure.
Listening to some, it’s like they’re trying to unload him, as if he’s a burden for this team. In fact, a fan I was interacting with on Twitter yesterday called him “useless”… It’s far from being the case. I don’t know what these people are watching. Is it because they’ve never played the game at a high level, creating a void of knowledge for the value of guys like him and what he brings because it cannot be measured in stats? I don’t know. Nevertheless, let’s address some of those “concerns” once and for all.
Outside the window
Josh Anderson turned 28 years old in May. The narrative that he is outside the Habs’ window to win is, in my opinion, a flawed excuse. Why? Allow me… How many vets did recent Stanley Cup winners had? I’ll help you with that one…
The 2022 Colorado Avalanche who won the Stanley Cup had Jack Johnson, Darren Helm, Andrew Cogliano, Erik Johnson, Nazem Kadri and Josh Manson contributing to their championship. The Stanley Cup winners the previous two years, in 2020 and in 2021, were the Tampa Bay Lightning. In their ranks, they had Braydon Coburn, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Corey Perry, Pat Maroon, Kevin Shattenkirk, Riley Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Alex Killorn, Luke Schenn, Zach Bogosian, David Savard… The St. Louis Blues won the Cup in 2019 with Jay Bouwmeester, Alexander Steen, Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson, Pat Maroon, David Perron and Robert Bortuzzo. The year before, the 2018 Stanley Cup champions Washington Capitals had Brooks Orpik, Jay Beagle, Matt Niskanen and TJ Oshie, amongst others.
Here’s an important fact: winning teams need quality veterans in different roles. It’s not just a suggestion, it’s a necessity! I could have kept going back further in time, but I think you get the jist.
One of my personal pet peeves when exchanging on social media is when people use affirmations to predict the future. Prospect A will never become a good prospect. Or, Player B will never score 20 goals. Statements affirming that this team will never win the Cup with Player C on it.
One example I want to highlight is from people claim that the Canadiens are 3-4 years away from being competitive and contending… How can anyone be so sure of that without knowing what’s coming at trade deadline and in the off-season? It’s IMPOSSIBLE to know that . Heck if you asked them, even the Habs’ management couldn’t tell you that!
Another example of fans predicting the future is when we see people claiming that Anderson, due to his physical style of play, will not be effective much longer. I’m not talking about unreasonable people here, as many of them I follow on Twitter myself. They cite names of power-forwards from 10-20 years ago to claim that Anderson will follow suite. Well folks, the game has changed and most of those guys couldn’t keep up with the game today.
What most of those players didn’t have, that Anderson does have, is skating abilities. Unless a players gets a serious hip or leg injury, fast skaters will always be fast, even when the start losing a step. And that can happen no matter your size, ask Paul Byron. Here’s a list of big guys who play a style somewhat similar to Anderson today, and provided their age.
- Nino Niederreiter (NAS) 30
- Chris Kreider (NYR) 31
- Brock Nelson (NYI) 31
- Kevin Hayes (PHI) 30
- Jaimie Benn (DAL) 33
- Anders Lee (NYI) 32
Very few hockey people around the NHL would claim that those players wouldn’t be beneficial for a Stanley Cup run, even if they’re all in their 30’s. So what’s so different about Anderson?
Allow me to point to a few irrefutable facts about Josh Anderson:
- He joined the Canadiens on time for the 2020-21 season
- He measures 6’3″ and tips the scale at 218 lbs
- He averages 25 goals per 82 games since debarking in Montreal
- Only Nick Suzuki has scored more goals than Anderson since the Canadiens acquired him, 20 more goals than Brendan Gallagher in that time span
- Only Nick Suzuki has played more games in a Habs’ uniform than Anderson since joining the team
- Only Alexander Romanov has more hits than Anderson since he joined the team
- Since he’s been in Montreal, his 1.25 giveaways per 60 minutes is the third best on the entire team after Artturi Lehkonen and Tomas Tatar
- His five fighting majors are second to only Michael Pezzetta since the 2020-21 season
- Not only does he skates fast “for a big guy”, he is one of the fastest skaters on a speedy Canadiens’ team
- He is not afraid to play along the boards and he does drive to the net
- He is one of the Canadiens’ leaders
- He is signed for for four more years (after this one) with a cap hit of $5.5 million bringing cost certainty
- His cap hit will only become more affordable as seasons progress, meaning that $5.5 million in three years with a higher salary cap will take a smaller percentage of the team’s cap
Not for trade
Reading social media, it seems like for some people, a late first round pick is a sure thing. No matter how often they are presented with the real probabilities, they refuse to see the reality . In fact, I strongly encourage you to look at my most recent research about the value of a first round pick on this very site. It’s like for them, two birds in the bush are better than one in the hand. That mindset is mind boggling, to say the least. I guess it brings them hope and hope makes them feel good… like buying a lottery ticket.
According to Kent Hughes himself, the Canadiens are NOT shopping Anderson and unlike some of the fans, they are very happy to keep him and understand his true value on the team, on and off the ice. Also, Hughes has been clear that he will not be keeping salary on contracts that don’t expire at the end of the season.
So you think the Canadiens need the cap space? Jonathan Drouin ($5.5M), Evgenii Dadonov ($5M), Paul Byron ($3.4M LTIR) and Sean Monahan ($6.375M) are all scheduled to become UFAs. That’s a grand total of more than $20 million is cap space. Plus, you have Mike Hoffman (4.5M) and Joel Edmundson ($3.5M) in rumours. They only have Cole Caufield, Michael Pezzetta and Jordan Harris to re-sign and Caufield won’t be making more than Suzuki, mark my words.
That’s not saying that Anderson is “untouchable”, as everyone has a price. But in order to get the Canadiens’ GM’s attention and make him think of changing his mind, a team would have to present a severe overpayment. Unless it’s in the top-5 (which no one will know until after the season), a first round pick simply will not do it. In other words, teams must ask themselves what it would take for Hughes to even consider trading someone he has no intention of trading. They don’t need, nor do they want to trade him.
Now, some examples. Remember what we’ve just talked about before overreacting when looking at the examples below, saying that this or that would never happen as it’s too much for Anderson. Since a first round pick won’t be enough, a first and a blue-chip prospect would be my personal asking price, unless the prospect is outstanding.
☞ From The New Jersey Devils
☞ From the Dallas Stars (no 2023 first, it would have to be 2024)
☞ From the Edmonton Oilers
☞ From the Calgary Flames
☞ From the St-Louis Blues
☞ From the Vegas Golden Knights
Then, there is always the possibility of including Anderson in a package deal to acquire an established, young NHL player. I have two players in mind, but there are certainly more out there. Just note that a package deal doesn’t mean one for one. Other players, prospects and/or picks would be involved going one way or the other. My goal is not to finalize a deal here, but to provide a direction.
- Brock Boeser
- Pierre-Luc Dubois
In all likeliness, the odds are probably better with a package deal than getting a first and a top prospect.
So… after looking at the names mentioned in this article, don’t hold your breath if you’re expecting a deal to be done which would include Josh Anderson. Teams will not want to overpay, and will look for other option. And if you’re the Canadiens, they won’t shed a tear because they know how difficult it is to get your hands on a player with everything that Anderson brings.