During this recent offensive slump for the New York Rangers, it’s become apparent the team is lacking scoring depth throughout the lineup, specifically in the top-six. Players like Brandon Dubinsky and Brad Richards, who are supposed to be cogs in the offensive machine, are just not getting their respective jobs done. But one player who’s seen his star fall significantly over the course of six weeks after a good start to the season is Artem Anisimov. Ever since the “celebration heard round the world,” Anisimov’s game has suffered and has fallen out of favor with coach Tortorella, spending numerous shifts on the fourth line.
Which poses the question, when the trade deadline comes and the Rangers examine themselves and look to improve their club, will they use Artem Anisimov as trade bait to bring in a proven scorer?
Find out the answer after the jump. Word of warning: you may not like it.
Artem Anisimov is having a rough go of it in his third NHL season. After starting the first 32 games of the season with 22 points (7 goals, 15 assists) and developing chemistry on a line with Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan, Anisimov has gone scoreless in 13 straight contests with last goal coming on Dec 20 against the Devils. He’s been relegated to bottom-six minutes as he struggles to recapture his game.
The organization expected continued development from the 23-year-old — he’s increased his point totals each season since his rookie year — but it’s tough to do when you’re struggling offensively and seeing limited ice-time. However, when the team overall is not scoring, it’s tough to place the blame on one player. The only way back into Tortorella’s good graces is to make things happen and play hard in the time you do receive.
Now, as the trade deadline approaches, Glen Sather and the coaches will evaluate who they could part with in any deal(s) the team may execute to improve itself. One of the players they’ll consider will certainly be Artem Anisimov. Teams in a selling position and/or rebuilding would covet a player like Anisimov; still very young, can play a two-way game, has a very good shot, and is under control through the 2012-2013 season with a manageable $1.875 million cap-hit. It’s not something Rangers fans want to hear: the team parting with young, homegrown talent —something Tortorella has been steadfast against. However, to get something of value you must part with something of value. This isn’t NHL 12 with the reject trade option off: this is the real world.
A player “linked” to the Rangers for most of the season is Anaheim Ducks LW Bobby Ryan. If the Ducks continue their struggles – Anaheim currently sits 13th in the West even after bringing in Bruce Boudreau to coach – GM Bob Murray may actually pull the trigger on the 24-year-old sniper. Depending on what the Ducks identify as their needs – rumors were an NHL-ready player, prospects, and picks – Artem Anisimov could be one of the players they want. I pose this question to anyone: If the Ducks are willing to trade Ryan and want a packaged deal with Anisimov included amongst others, would you be willing to part with him?
If Anisimov doesn’t turn it around and begin to produce like he was earlier in the season, the clock will start to tick louder and louder.
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