Our annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown has begun! The rankings were determined by a combination of reader voting and our staff’s own voting. We then combined the reader rankings (50%) and the staff rankings (50%) to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 3, 2018, when the 2018-19 NHL season begins.
We’re taking a look at the best and the brightest in the Los Angeles Kings organization in our sixth annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown. Appearing on the list at #11 is Mikey Anderson.
Age: 19 (May 25, 1999)
2017-18 Team: University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
2017-18 Statistics: 39 GP, 5 G, 18 A, 23 P
Jewels Reader Ranking: 11
Jewels Staff Ranking: 10
Last Year’s Ranking: 17
The Los Angeles Kings have a proud history of turning NCAA defensemen into solid NHL players, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting that in recent seasons. Derek Forbort finally made the jump to the big leagues a couple of years ago and Paul LaDue is knocking on the door, but aside from those two North Dakota products and Alec Martinez, recent years have been a little more scarce. We might be seeing a return to form soon, though. Daniel Brickley was signed as a free agent out of Minnesota State, making it conceivable that LA’s top six features four college players at some point this season, and though the Kings didn’t draft any defensemen in 2018, they took two NCAA guys in 2017.
One of them is Mikey Anderson. He’s the guy on the right in the photo above, celebrating Minnesota-Duluth’s semifinal victory in the Frozen Four. You might recall that UMD won last year’s semifinal too, on an Alex Iafallo goal with 26 seconds left, before succumbing in the national championship. This season UMD barely got in, as the 16th of 16 teams selected for the NCAA Tournament. They responded with an inspired run, winning their second national championship. The freshman defenseman was a crucial part of the squad, finishing second on the team in scoring and getting a good view of the final seconds.
It was a pretty great year, all things considered, for the player who scored the Bulldogs’ first goal of the season back in October. Anderson also made the United States’ World Junior Championships roster, notching a single assist in seven games and taking home a bronze medal for his troubles. The second-youngest blueliner on the squad behind eventual top-ten pick Quinn Hughes, Anderson appears set to return next season after making a solid impression at the world juniors summer showcase month ago. Growth is a good goal for Anderson, who found his way into some prime-time situations and will now look to lead his team through them.
So I’ve talked enough about his teams, both of which included an older brother (Joey) who is headed to Devils training camp this season. What about Mikey? He was praised immediately post-draft for his defensive abilities, and while there appeared to be some puck-moving potential, he projected as a third-pairing guy, perhaps a second-pairing player if things broke right. I don’t think that has changed all that much, but picking up 18 assists as a freshman is a good way to answer questions about your vision. He was as defensively solid as can be expected, and on a young team coming off a surprising run, I’d expect his supporting cast to get better. He likely won’t be “the guy” on the blueline this year, as 2018 second-rounder Scott Perunovich is coming back for his sophomore season, but he’s gotta be comfortable now.
Long-term, Anderson is likely to run into a pesky issue that many Kings prospects encounter: he’s a left-shooting defenseman, in an organization with a bunch of them. How does he plan on setting himself apart? He might just do it by being really danged reliable, a trait that hasn’t hurt a Kings blueliner in the past. Keep an eye on him this season; as one of the top five (by our reckoning) defensive prospects in the system, he’s very capable of turning in an even more improved campaign.
(Also, given that Mike Eyssimont has apparently dropped the “Y” from his first name, Anderson now lays claim to being LA’s one Mikey. He won’t be the only Anderson, but he’ll just have to accept that.)