On December 10, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said he would give Joey Anderson some run with the NHL club, to see if he could handle regular duty on the fourth line. A few games later he found himself out of the lineup and back in the minor leagues.
Now, the 24-year-old has been recalled and appears set to return to Toronto’s lineup. He practiced on the fourth line, and Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun reports that Zach Aston-Reese will come out to keep a healthy competition for minutes between the team’s depth forwards.
Anderson has been one of the Toronto Marlies’ best players again this year, scoring 14 goals and 27 points in 30 games. But that kind of production has never followed him to the NHL, where he has just 14 points in 65 career games.
As Toronto approaches the trade deadline, many are expecting them to upgrade the second-line left wing spot beside John Tavares, which has been something of a rotating cast for the last few seasons. Calle Jarnkrok is currently there, but has never really produced at a top-six level. If the team does make an addition, Jarnkork will likely drop down and push one of those depth forwards out of the lineup.
The competition is only going to get tougher from here, meaning if Anderson has any hope of establishing himself in the NHL this season, he’ll need to make an impact right away.