X Factors For 2010: Artem Anisimov Edition

Continuing with our off-season X factors coverage, today we will take a look at Artem Anisimov. Anisimov, who was the New York Rangers 2nd round selection (54th overall) in the 2006 NHL entry draft, spent all of last season with the big club after spending his first two professional seasons with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

In Anisimov's rookie year last year, he notched 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points in 82 games. In those 82 games Anisimov averaged just shy of 13 minutes of ice time per night, and was usually paired on the third or fourth line. When it came to special teams Anisimov averaged 43 seconds a night with the man advantage and 42 seconds a game when the Rangers were a man down.

Anisimov is one of the more interesting X factors that the Rangers will employ this season, mainly because there are so many variables to how successful of a year he will have this season. Join me after the jump to see what kinds of factors Anisimov will be judged on this year. 

So what makes Anisimov an X factor? Well, a bunch of factors, and here they are.

For starters a ton of Anisimov's success this year is going to depend on how he is utilized by Rangers Head Coach John Torotrella. Last year Anisimov was pretty much relegated to fourth line duty, while sometimes seeing the third line for spurts during the year. Although it needs to be noted that Tortorella did give him close to 13 minutes of ice time a night, which is plenty for a rookie who is trying to find his way in the NHL. 

Last year Anisimov was able to parlay those 13 minutes a night into 28 points, which was the 8th highest point total on the team last year. Obviously a ton of that has to do with how offensively starved the Rangers were as a unit last year, but it still speaks to his skill on the ice

The biggest factor that needs improvement when it comes to Anisimov is going to be his consistency. There were various times last year where he was completely invisible during games, to the point where I was actually surprised to see that he played in all 82 games last year. Realistically one can't expect smooth consistency from a rookie, so his lapses were understandable, but it's an area of his game that needs some improvement this year. 

His point total will increase with improvements in his consistency, but I'm not expecting a huge jump in point totals this year from Anisimov, mainly because I don't see Tortorella implementing him into the top two lines. But I do expect this year to be a huge stepping stone for his future NHL success. If he can work on his two way game, get more confident int he corners and use his rocket of a shot more often I will be happy.

I'm not saying that he can't put up 60 points this year in the right role, but I'm saying it's unlikely. Although it should be noted that he went from 43 points in his first year in the AHL to 81 points in his second year, so anything is possible. 

The other big question with Anisimov when it comes to his point production will be goals. He was a 37 goal scorer in the AHL two years ago, and there is some expectancy for him to be able to hit the back of the net in the NHL. I'm not saying that Anisimov is going to be a 40 goal scorer next year, but I do want to see him utilize his shot more, and this year is the perfect time for him to do it. 

The other issue that we will run into when talking about Anisimov is his power play time. Tortorella gave him some time with the man advantage last year, but nothing significant. Obviously with the addition of Alexander Frolov and basically the same cast and crew as last year Anisimov is going to have to impress to get into the power play forces, but I would like to see him there on a nightly basis.

Anisimov brings a lot to the table with the man advantage because he has nice vision and a hell of a shot (when he uses it), plus he scores a bunch of his goals around the front of the net. If you're a Rangers fan and you have no idea what "scoring goals from right in front of the net" looks like, you're not alone. And Anisimov would help alleviate that little problem. 

In the end, last season was a relatively successful one for Anisimov. He really found his game toward the end of the year, and started to gain some serious confidence in his game. Hopefully this year is another nice jump for Anisimov, because him getting better is only better for the Rangers. 

Thoughts guys? The floor is yours. 

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