Sunday, February 27, 2011
The problem was Sanderson was not always on the top of his game.
He relied on full-out speed to drive wide on a defenseman, either driving straight to the net or backing the defenseman enough to fire away. Sanderson liked to shoot as often as possible, and he had an excellent release. On the power play he liked to set up on his off wing for one-timers.
For all his years in the NHL, Sanderson never seemed to learn how to make better use of his speed. He went full out, but rarely used various gears to really throw off defenses. As a result he was a bit predictable. Especially in tight checking games where his speed was neutralized. The wiry Sanderson was not nearly as effective in such games, as he did not have the muscle or the temperament to battle through.
In fairness, Sanderson, much like Tony Tanti in his prime, never really had a lot of help from his teammates. He had few elite teammates to help him achieve more. With his speed and shot he should he could have been a 50 goal scorer on stronger teams.
Sanderson, one of the rare NHL players born in the Northwest Territories, was drafted 36th overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1990 NHL draft. Playing alongside playmaker Andrew Cassels he became a very good goal scorer in six seasons in Hartford before he and the whole franchise transfered to Carolina.
Sanderson only lasted half a season in Carolina before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Mike Keenan, known as a tyrant of a coach by many players, did not take to Sanderson well and after just nine scoreless games he was moved to Buffalo.
Sanderson struggled through a couple of seasons in Buffalo and his career seemed all but over. The Columbus Blue Jackets picked up the veteran speedster in the 2000 Expansion Draft, reviving his career. Twice more Sanderson would top 30 goals.
After 4 seasons in Columbus Sanderson returned to his vagabond ways to end his career, playing short stints in Vancouver, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Edmonton.