Thus far, nearly everything we’ve told you about defenseman Mikey Anderson since he was selected by the LA Kings in 2017 has played out as described.
He played for USA at the 2018 World Junior Championships, despite being one of the youngest guys on the team.
One year later, he returned, this time as captain, and played a significant role in their strong showing at the tournament – although they had to settle for silver after falling to Rasmus Kupari and Finland 3-2 in the gold medal game.
On the college front, after back-to-back championships with the University of Minnesota Duluth, Anderson turned pro this past April.
MayorsManor has been chronicling his journey since he first came into the organization. And even casual readers likely know by now, we’re very bullish on his NHL future.
With Rookie Camp set to open in Los Angeles next week, we recently checked in with the young blueliner. Prior to beginning life as a pro hockey player this season, he was first invited to represent the Kings at this month’s NHLPA Rookie Showcase. Basically, it’s an event where one or two prospects from each NHL team gather for a few days of orientation-minded things. Oh, and the other purpose is so Upper Deck can take pictures for their upcoming releases. No big deal, right?
MM: Does it make your NHL dream a little more real having been there, with Upper Deck photographing you for a potential hockey card – one with you wearing an LA Kings jersey?
For sure, especially for me; I grew up collecting Upper Deck hockey cards. I still have a big book of them at home. When you go through the experience and you look back at the same hockey cards that I collected as a kid, seeing all the players that I accumulated, and then you go to the event put on by the brand who made all of those cards, it’s pretty cool. It’s another step in the right direction for your career. It’s something that I tried to soak in and enjoy with a few of the buddies I knew there and all the guys I met throughout the week. It was just a great event and they really put on a first class deal for all of the young players there. Earlier in the summer, when they sent out the official invitation, they included all the information about specific stuff we would be doing and what would be going on. They also shared some of the big name guys who have attended in the past, guys who are in the NHL now. When you look at it like that, you realize how special it is to be included, to be thought of in that category of players.
MM: Well, now I have to ask, what’s the one Upper Deck card in your collection you value the most?
I’d have to say it’s one that I’ve had for a long time. It’s a Sidney Crosby / Peter Forsberg jersey card. One side is Crosby, the other side is Forsberg. And they’re both jersey cards. Back when I got that one, that was pretty cool. It’s been at the top of my booklet and hasn’t moved in a long time. What also made it so special was I got that out of a pack. When you open a pack and you get one like that, it’s really fun.
MM: What’s it been like getting to know Kale Clague? We have you guys as 1A and 1B on the defensive depth chart of Kings prospects, so you’re sort of in competition for a roster spot.
You can look at it that way. At the same time, we’re all in the same organization. We’re all looking to try and make the team, but at the end of day, we’re all teammates. I’ve said this before, but I think this year will be a fun competition with all the young defensemen – not just the two of us, but we know there’s a lot of young talent coming in. This should be a competitive camp and there are a few spots that need to be filled. I didn’t really know Kale that much until this last weekend. It was really fun getting to spend time with him, though, and get to know him better. In talking with him, we’re different players on the ice. It’s kind of fun to even think about the possibility of maybe being D partners with him at some point in time. He’s a little more offensive-minded than I am. Overall, it was just nice to get to spend some time with him and get to know him better, as we both move forward in the organization.
MM: You’ve mentioned to us in the past that being surrounded by high-end players, like you were with Team USA at the World Juniors, really gets your competitive juices flowing. Can you envision a situation with Clague, where maybe you two push each other and try to one-up what the other guy is capable of doing?
I think so, for sure. It’s no different than having a guy in the weight room pushing you during a certain exercise. Or you have a good rep in practice, and then he has a good rep. You give him a tap and tell him, ‘Good job.’ Then, you go out and try to have a better rep. That’s when the healthy, competitive nature comes out within the team. I’m a big of having that; where you’re supporting your teammates, but you’re still trying to do it better than they do. That’s when the healthy competition will come about and I think that will help fuel the team to success.
MM: You missed the NHL Rookie Faceoff tournament last year because you were still in school, so couldn’t attend Kings Rookie Camp. What do you know about the event and what expectations do you have coming in?
More than anything, I’m just excited to get going next week. I’ve had some downtime this summer — there was time to relax, recover, and just enjoy things a little bit — but it’s probably been a lot like most guys; just training and ramping things up with a lot more skating the past few weeks. I really don’t know a ton about the tournament, other than we’ll have a couple practices before we start playing games. I’m coming into it open minded, though. I know we have a good group of players going right. It will be fun to be with them, build some relationships, get a couple games in and feel good about my game heading into main camp.
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