Since the passing of Alexei Cherepanov, Artem Anisimov has been considered the Rangers best European prospect in the organization. Before this season, Anisimov put in two solid years in the AHL with the Hartford Wolfpack where he performed well and proved to the Rangers that his game could translate from Russia to North America. Anisimov was expected to make the team last fall and he did just that, seeing mostly third line minutes while racking up a solid 28 points in his rookie season.
Join me after the jump for specifics.
|2009 - Artem Anisimov||82||12||16||28||-2||32||1||0||2||0||124||9.7|
What we liked: Anisimov is a shifty forward with a large frame and smooth hands to go along with it. He makes solid passes and has good playmaking sense with an OK shot. Artem also centered the infamous fourth line that played oh so well at the end of the season down the playoff stretch. Numbers-wise, Anisimov actually came very close to his projected average NHL season point per game figure of 0.36 (30 points) with 0.34 or 28 points (12 + 16). His Quality of teammates and competition reflect that he played on the third or fourth line, which is expected, but he actually had one of the better relative Corsi figures on the team despite his role on the lower lines.
What we didn't like: Once again I feel like I'm nitpicking with a player, but Anisimov's relative +/- rating was negative in the end. But, I really don't have much else to put here. Anisimov isn't expected to be a savior for the Rangers anytime soon, but his NHL ceiling (according to league translations, of course) should be anywhere from 35-42 points in his prime (25-27). Anisimov has always had more assists than goals in his career thus far in North America, so that's something we should come to expect over the next couple of seasons.
Highlight Play/Game: Anisimov had his only multi-goal game of the year in a 4-2 losing effort to the Pens in late January, but hopefully he can duplicate his pre-season moves more often during next season:
Final Thoughts: There is good and bad news about Artem. The good is that he is only 21 years of age with a fine career ahead of him. The bad? Next season is a contract year for Anisimov, and I really don't want a Dubinsky saga going on again; especially if the young Russian has a solid year. I thought he did a fine job this year with what he had to work with for wingers and I expect him to be the third line center again next season.
Encouraged by Artem's quiet 28 point season? Should the Blueshirts try and wrap him up before the end of next season? Think he could ever blossom into a first line center (I think 2nd line is his max)? Let's hear it...
EDIT: Our friend Laurie Carr translated a great interview with Anisimov on her site Beyond the Blueshirts. Definitely check it out.