Nominee No. 2: Mikey Anderson
Mikey Anderson entered the 2020-21 season expected to be a depth player for the LA Kings defense. Never known as a flashy offensive player, Anderson’s calling card is strong defensive play and leadership skills. This season was supposed to be a “learn the ropes” type of season for the 21-year-old defenseman.
That all changed when it became apparent that Olli Maatta, who was acquired to be Drew Doughty‘s defensive partner, was not working out in that role. Anderson was thrust into the first defensive pairing in a “trial by fire” situation, and he certainly responded.
Sure, there were occasional struggles, as happens with most rookies, but Anderson’s play got stronger as the season wore on. His steady play helped Doughty return to form as an elite NHL defenseman, and being Doughty’s partner meant Anderson would get a lot of ice time. He averaged 21:11 per game this season.
A further testament to Anderson’s strong defensive play is that he tied for the LA Kings’ lead this season in plus-minus. He was one of only two Kings that was not in the negative in this category, which is astounding given Anderson’s situation.