Two summers ago, Matt Anderson inked an AHL deal with the Devils after spending three-plus seasons with the Chicago Wolves. During his debut year with Albany, he produced 23 goals and 32 assists in 76 games. Along the way to posting 55 points (tied for third most in franchise history), Anderson represented Albany in the 2011 AHL All-Star Game.
Last summer, he upgraded to a two-year NHL contract with New Jersey and produced 10 goals and 21 assists in 56 games in the AHL. An injury sidelined Anderson for 20 games between Jan. 18 and Mar. 4.
Now preparing for his sixth professional season, he is using the offseason to recover first and develop second.
“Rest is a big part of the offseason,” Anderson said after the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. “It’s a long season with a lot of bumps and bruises. I can probably use the time during the next five months to heal and get back to full strength. That’s the first thing on my agenda.”
“For me, it’s pretty much my fitness and building my body back up strength wise,” he said when asked about his summer goals. “If you aren’t working on your skating then you are doing yourself a disservice. That’s the game and that’s paramount as far as being effective in this league.”
During the past two seasons, Anderson has been one of the top offensive producers for Albany. His totals in 2011-12 ranked first on the squad, while his output in 2011-12 ranked fifth despite missing a quarter of the season.
A combined 86 points during that span has him three points away from tying Ryan (J.) Murphy for 10th on the team’s all-time points list.
With five seasons completed in the AHL, Anderson has amassed 164 points in 275 games. He appeared in 143 regular season games for Chicago between 2007 and 2010 and helped the team raise the Calder Cup in 2008.
The West Islip, NY native turns 30 on Halloween and depending if he makes New Jersey’s roster, Anderson could find himself in a leadership role with Albany.
“That’s something I’m fairly familiar with because of my college experience,” Anderson said. “I was a captain for three years at UMass-Amherst. I understand I’m going to have more games in this league then most guys and getting close to veteran status the next couple of seasons. I’m going to turn 30 in the fall, so I think because of my experience as a hockey player in age, compared to some of the other players, I’ve already adapted some of the leadership role. So those are shoes I can definitely fill.”
The AHL’s development rule indicates that 12 of the 18 skaters on the ice must have played in 260 or fewer professional games at the start of the season. Anderson crested that mark last season, insuring that while playing in Albany, he will be one of the more seasoned players on the roster.