A little bit of news that was announced yesterday that I wanted to comment on. Joey Anderson, a Devils prospect (taken in the third round, 73rd overall in the 2016 Draft) out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, was named captain of the US team at the upcoming World Junior Championship.
According to Chris Ryan of NJ.com, he was voted captain by his peers. Ryan quoted Devils coach John Hynes as saying “That was exciting for us as an organization. I think when you have your prospects be able to come in and play in high-pressure situations, it’s always a good thing. But then to be voted a captain of a World Junior team, I think it’s impressive for Joey, but it’s also exciting for us.”
Anderson, 19-years-old, actually played for Team USA in last year’s World Junior tournament. He played seven games for the Americans. Team USA won last year’s tournament, defeating Canada in an epic showdown in the gold medal game.
Ryan mentioned some of the other prospects the Devils could have playing in this tournament when all the rosters are finally set. Michael McLeod (Canada), Reilly Walsh (USA), Marian Studenic (Slovakia), Jesper Boqvist (Sweden), Fabian Zetterlund (Sweden), Mikhail Maltsev (Russia) and Yegor Zaitsev (Russia) could all end up making their country’s squads. This, along with Anderson being named the Americans’ captain, is a source of pride in the Devils organization.
Ryan points out that last year’s World Junior Championship tournament “helped propel Nico Hischier to the top of many draft boards before the Devils took him first overall in June.” Hynes told Ryan that “you’re dealing with arguably 20, 21 of the best players in that age group playing in that tournament.” He was referring to Anderson specifically when he said “and he’s the captain.” Hynes summed it up by saying that these are the kinds of players that the Devils are looking for. Guys that are “high-talented players” that also need “leadership and character to really be effective.”
This is a big thing for the Devils. It is not just that they have one of their prospects as a captain of the defending champions, it is also the amount of prospects that they are sending to this elite tournament. As we have seen with other college draftees (Will Butcher, Alex Kerfoot) they do not always end up playing for the organization that drafted them and have options. Hopefully Joey Anderson becomes a New Jersey Devil, because he seems like the kind of good, talented character leader that the Devils could use going forward.
The 2017 World Junior Championship begins on December 26 in Buffalo, New York. One of the main attractions this year will be Team USA taking on Canada outdoors at New Era Field (the home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the site of the first NHL Winter Classic).