TORONTO - J.P. Anderson knows all about the ups and downs of life in the hockey world — even though he’s just 18 years old.
And although it is far too early in his young life — and even younger life as a budding goaltending prospect — to predict what the future holds for the Toronto native, he has certainly learned all about the ups-and-downs of the hockey world pretty quickly.
Anderson was a second-round draft pick of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in 2008 and was immediately tabbed a bona fide prospect for pro hockey. In his first two seasons in the OHL he produced solid numbers, so things were progressing very nicely for him.
But in his NHL draft year he was bypassed. That’s a tough pill to swallow for any younger player, as the 2010 NHL Draft came and went without Anderson’s name being called.
The young goalie shook off that disappointment, however, and stayed positive. He even got an invite to the training camp of the San Jose Sharks, getting a chance to show that the scouts made a mistake in not drafting him.
Anderson made the most of that opportunity and was tremendous in camp, so much so that he was signed by the Sharks to an entry level contract and returned to the Majors for their Memorial Cup hosting year. Things went from bad to good in a hurry for him.
And then promptly went from good to bad once again. Considered a solid prospect for Team Canada, Anderson was one of four goalies invited to the Team Canada evaluation camp for the world junior hockey championship in Buffalo.
Despite a very good OHL regular season and from all accounts, a decent camp (not to mention that his OHL coach Dave Cameron was the head coach of Team Canada), Anderson got the early morning phone call all invitees dread — he was cut from the roster and returned to the Majors, while goalie Mark Visentin of the Niagara IceDogs got the nod over him.
Obviously disappointed, Anderson came back to Mississauga and like the rest of the country did, watched Visentin lead Canada into the gold medal game before Canada’s historic third-period collapse resulted in the bronze medal.
Visentin and the IceDogs played Anderson’s Majors on the weekend in what was supposed to be a showdown between the two fine young goalies that battled for that spot on Team Canada, with Visentin winning. Only problem was, Anderson wasn’t available.
He had other commitments, after the San Jose Sharks called him up on an emergency basis for a game Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild.
“It was just one of those things that happens,” Cameron said Friday night as he prepared to face the IceDogs with two other goalies, who had a combined one game of OHL experience (Mickael Audette who was recently acquired from the QMJHL and London Nationals call-up Taylor Edwards). “I watched the Sharks game and saw they had a young call-up and didn’t think anything of it really.
“The next day I get a call and it’s the Sharks telling me they wanted J.P. What a great opportunity it was for him, although it was really unexpected.”
As the saying goes, opportunities don’t always come at the most opportune time. And once again, Anderson’s early roller coaster ride in the hockey world takes a massive swing upwards after a disappointment.
His stay in the NHL was brief as the Sharks returned him after one game. But the irony of him being in the NHL the same weekend he was slated to face the goalie that beat him out for a spot on Team Canada wasn’t lost on anyone who follows the OHL.
“You just never know in this game how things are going to unfold,” Cameron said. “Things can change in a hurry.”
And nobody knows that better than his 18-year-old goalie.