For the better part of nine seasons, 518 games to be exact, the Columbus Blue Jackets employed the likes of Jared Boll in an effort to add an enforcer to the line-up when needed. Boll exemplifies the old school enforcer: the ability to beat the crap out of almost anyone, but lacking the ability to score. Boll had a total of 27 goals during his time, something that has quickly changed with the new tough guy in town. That man goes by the name of Josh Anderson, and he’s bringing in a new age of enforcing.
The New-Age Columbus Blue Jackets Enforcer: Josh Anderson
Anderson has been nothing short of a revelation in the bottom six for Columbus this season. Columbus has spent the better part of a decade accepting the fact that their designated tough guy couldn’t contribute anything offensively, but this is no longer the case. When you add the ability to score to your physical presence in the line-up, prepare to have more success than previously expected.
Anderson vs Boll
It’s easy to compare Anderson to Boll and just look at the point production, but to really push the point home you have to dig deeper. To do this, the best way to go about that would be to compare the analytics of Anderson this season, his only full NHL season so far, to the best of Boll.
The easy way to go about things would be to compare the two best seasons of point production for Jared Boll, which would be 2008-09 and 2010-11. In 2008-09 Boll had the most points in a single season of his career with 14, and he had a career high in goals during 2010-11 with seven, and added five assists as well. Compare that to the 14 goals and 10 assists you have from Anderson in 63 games this season and you have a clear-cut winner. The analytics speak volumes to how useful Boll was for a short period, and how Anderson is overall projected to be a much better player long-term.
In the last season Jared Boll was in Columbus, 2015-16, his RelCF% was a horrendously low -17.11, meaning Columbus took a 17.11% smaller share of the shot attempts than their opponents when Boll was on the ice. The -17.11 RelCF% that Boll had during 2015-16 was by far the worst in the NHL, and easily the worst of his career as well. However, Boll hasn’t ever been at a positive, or even a neutral, RelCF% in his entire career. It’s worth noting these numbers are all score, zone, and venue adjusted, as well as being only at 5v5.
To put this into perspective against Anderson, his RelCF% this season over the course of his 63 games is a -5.40, which isn’t all that great either. Ironically enough, however, this was better than the -6.00 that Boll posted in the 2008-09 season when he posted his career high in points. So what does this say about the comparison between the two?
What it shows is that neither of them are fantastic in terms of RelCF% in comparison to the rest of the league. But when you take into account that they have taken on the role of enforcer, very few are. The one thing that can be said is that both have served the role well in their respective time in The Buckeye State.
When you take the above analytics, and their point production, into account it becomes all the more clear that Anderson is bringing a new age of enforcing to the Blue Jackets organization. While he may not be the best possession hockey player in the NHL, he’s an upgrade on Jared Boll, giving the Jackets a new dimension to their bottom six. This new dimension is a pivotal cog in the well-oiled machine that is a Blue Jackets team heading straight for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.