After a solid 2009-2010 rookie campaign that saw the young Russian forward net 28 points (12g, 16a) in 82 games, the Rangers looked for bigger things from Artem Anisimov going in to this season. “Artie” showed flashes of brilliance with his hands, beating defenders with shiftiness and made the coaching staff believe he could contribute more offensively in the future. But, Anisimov was (and still is) a raw talent and very wet behind the ears. That’s why he took it upon himself to get more accustom to the North American game over the summer and took English lessons before the start of the season, hoping to be more engaged with his teammates both on and off the ice. Would the offseason tutoring have any impact on Anisimov’s season?
Let’s look further and check out Artem Anisimov’s 2010-2011 season:
What We Expected
For Artem Anisimov to improve on his 28 point rookie season. With the Rangers cultivating all of their young talent and needing their centers to step up, Anisimov was the perfect candidate to fill that role. During training camp, there wasn’t a clear idea of who would be playing with whom as the Rangers, as they always seem to do, brought in some new interchangeable parts to compliment their core. Derek Stepan was in camp trying to make the roster and was no guarantee to make the team. Todd White was brought in via trade but was never seen as a legitimate player to contribute to the team. For Anisimov, it was his job to lose and his responsibility to keep improving his game. He displayed at times last season slick hands to compliment his defensive abilities, now the onus was on Anisimov to maintain a level of consistency between the two.
How He Did
Artem Anisimov had a tremendous start to his season although couldn’t maintain it down the stretch. Forming the famous “Duballahanisimov” line early on in the year with Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky, Artie found instant chemistry with those 2 core Rangers, propelling himself to a 44 point season (18g, 26a). What’s impressive is that in 2 full seasons with New York, Anisimov has played in every single game; an indicator of the level of trust coach John Tortorella has in his two-way play.
Anisimov improved in nearly every single category assessed from his rookie season to this season, including finishing the season +3 (his rookie season he finished -2). Examining Anisimov’s statistics further, he found the bright lights of Broadway more comforting, scoring 29 points (10g, 19a) of his 41 points at MSG.
The only negative for Anisimov season was how he wore down late in the year and the playoffs. Anisimov saw time on special teams as well as his regular shift, potentially feeling burnt out over the long season. Plus, Tortorella seemed to like moving Anisimov around on the lines, seeing time with Wojtek Wolski, Ruslan Fedotenko, and others. This might’ve waned on the 22-year old’s confidence as Ansimov struggled to find offense late in the year. When he wasn’t
playing with Cally and Dubi, it looked like Anisimov’s game wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
Final Grade: C+
The improvements Anisimov made throughout the season offensively were encouraging along with discovering great chemistry with Dubinsky and Callahan. In a perfect world, that trio is your ideal 2nd line; a line that can play hard, forecheck, skate with speed, and put pucks in the net. At times, they were hard to contain and Anisimov played a key role in that. His 2-goal performance against the Buffalo Sabres in November was his standout performance in my opinion. As many young players do, Artie suffered from confidence issues and coinciding with Torts’ affinity with shifting players around, Anisimov could never regain the form he had early in the season.
Artie also received some recognition for his fine season from his Russian peers, earning 2 3rd place votes for the Kharlamov Trophy, the NHL award for the best Russian forward. The eventual winner, Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, was one of the players to give Anisimov a vote. The significance here is Datsyuk is Anisimov’s role model if you will for what type of player he’d like to become and to receive a vote from him must be a high honor for Anisimov and possibly a motivational tool to use in his development.
As are several other Rangers, Anisimov is a restricted free agent this summer. However, don’t look for Artie to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Rangers are committed to developing their youth and Anisimov falls directly into that category. I could see Anisimov signing a similar deal to the ones Dubinsky and Callahan signed 2 seasons ago: 2-3 years at between $2.2-$2.6 mil per season then negotiating another contract.
Some writers have spoken of Anisimov as a possible trade chip to acquire an elite center in a trade. But, I don’t think New York will go that route this offseason as they have a plan in place with their kids and are following it with discipline.
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