As the Los Angeles Kings continue integrating prospects into their lineup, some will make an immediate impact, while others could come out of the gate a bit slower. One prospect who exceeded expectations in his first NHL season with the team though was defenseman Mikey Anderson.
Anderson was originally selected by the Kings with the 103rd pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. After being selected, the defender spent two years in the NCAA, before playing with the AHL’s Ontario Reign in the 2019-20 season. After just one season with the Reign, Anderson made a full-time jump to the NHL this year at just 21 years old.
Anderson played in 54 games with the Kings, scoring one goal and 11 points. What was more impressive though was the role that he was able to take on as just a rookie.
Anderson averaged the second-most minutes per game of any defender on the team, both at even strength and on the penalty kill. He took on a top-pairing role with Drew Doughty and was tasked with facing the highest quality of competition of any defenseman on the team (according to Hockey Abstract), while also being used in a very defensive role. While Anderson projected as one of the team's best defensive prospects coming into the season and there wasn't much depth on the left side of the defense group, he wasn't expected to take on as large of a role as he did so quickly.
Obviously, there’s still room for improvement, as Anderson could still get beaten on the rush at times or lose net-front battles. But as a 21-year-old, it was happening a lot less often than it would have with the majority of rookie defensemen tasked with such a large role.
As discussed before, the addition of Alex Edler is only going to help Anderson’s development as well. While Anderson transitioned to the NHL even smoother than expected, Edler should be able to take on more tough matchups and help to alleviate some of the pressure.
It was a pretty great first NHL season for Anderson though and we can expect him to continue getting better and better with the Kings. If his success continues, there’s certainly a good chance that Anderson could be a long-term, top-pairing defender for the team.
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Do you think Mikey Anderson will be a long-term, top-pairing defender with the Kings?