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Expectations were a little higher offensively for Josh Anderson last season with the belief he’d be a fixture on the top line.  While that didn’t happen with consistency, there is some reason for optimism that he might be able to pick up a few more points in 2023-24.


With Cole Caufield spending big chunks of the year on his off-wing, there was an opening for Anderson to fill on the top line along with Nick Suzuki.  However, Martin St. Louis learned quickly that while Anderson has some skills that complement the other two, he doesn’t quite have the offensive creativity to stick with those two.  Early on, especially, Kirby Dach wound up in that role.

The end result was Anderson bouncing around a bit more than expected.  He wound up spending time on each of the first three lines throughout the year with the linemates on those trios changing frequently due to injuries and St. Louis trying to get things going offensively.  On top of that, Anderson also saw time on his off-wing.

Not surprisingly, Anderson wasn’t able to find that extra gear in the offensive zone but he didn’t see any sort of decline either; his numbers wound up right around his career averages.  He also didn’t have too many peaks and valleys; he had one four-game point streak late in the year before being injured while he only had a stretch of more than four games without a point just once.  In the end, Anderson wound up being a relatively consistent secondary scorer for Montreal last season.

5 Year Averages

(The stats for 2019-20 and 2020-21 have been extrapolated to an 82-game rate.)

GP: 65
Goals: 19
Assists: 11
Points: 30
+/-: -6
PIMS: 54
PPG: 2
GWG: 4
Shots: 160

2023-24 Role

Last season was a mixed bag for Anderson in terms of his role and I see that being the case again in 2023-24.  At the moment, while Dach seems likelier to at least start down the middle, it’s far from a guarantee he’ll stay there which should open up a more frequent spot on the top line with Suzuki and Caufield.  (Of course, St. Louis likes to tinker his lines so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Dach was on the right wing on that line before too long.)  Anderson should be battling newcomer Alex Newhook and maybe Sean Monahan for regular playing time on that trio while if Rafael Harvey-Pinard can crack the full-time roster, he had enough success there last season to warrant a look as well.

If it seems like there are too many options for that top line, it’s because there are.  Without a true third top-liner, that role is likely to be in flux throughout the year which will result in frequent shuffling in other areas.  As a result, I expect Anderson to see frequent time on each of the first three lines at even strength.

From a special teams perspective, Anderson has typically been a fixture on the power play despite a relative lack of production and as someone that’s tall and can stand in front of the net, his presence on the man advantage will likely continue.  He saw time with both units last season and that should be the case again this time around, especially since there is almost certainly going to be frequent tinkering as last year’s power play struggles are probably still going to be there.  Anderson saw some regular penalty kill action last season on the secondary pairs and with the roster turnover being somewhat minimal, it seems like there’s a good chance that will continue.

Projected Stats

Based on his performance with Montreal over the past three seasons, if Anderson can stay healthy, there should be reason for optimism that he could approach the 40-point mark even with his five-on-five line likely to change with some frequency.  Of course, staying healthy has been a challenge as he has only reached the 80-game mark once in his career so far and with the style that he plays, that will probably continue to be a challenge.

Anderson is a tough player to get a proper read on from a fantasy perspective as he’s one that is a lot more valuable to the Canadiens on the ice than he is in most formats.  In most standard-scoring leagues, he shouldn’t be drafted unless it’s a very deep pool.

He gets a small boost for leagues where goals are worth more than assists as Anderson routinely has more tallies than helpers.  He’s a relatively safe bet to average more than two shots a game along with around two hits per night as well.  That makes him a viable option in head-to-head leagues with three above-average scoring categories.  But with what’s likely to be a wide variety of linemates next season, it’d be hard to trust Anderson as more than just a late-round flyer at best in most formats even if he is one of Montreal’s more important wingers in 2023-24.

GP: 71
Goals: 22
Assists: 13
Points: 35
+/-: -16
PIMS: 62
PPG: 3
GWG: 3
Shots: 162

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