With Brad Richards now on board, the Rangers finally have the no. 1 center they coveted, meaning other players move down the depth chart. Future stud (hopefully) Derek Stepan could have a spot on Richards’ wing depending on how Torts sees the lines shake out. Brian Boyle is the team’s 4th line center, and will at times move up to be a 3rd line center. Erik Christensen’s future with the team is muddled (possibly ending before training camp) at best and could be the team’s spare forward.
Where does that leave youngster Artem Anisimov? Primed to have a solid offensive season, that’s where.
Join me after the jump to find out why.
At 23-years-old, Anisimov is still a few years from entering his prime. However, every season he’s been in the NHL, Artie has improved his offensive numbers. Take a look at his career stats from the past two seasons courtesy of Hockey-Reference:
In each of his last two seasons, Anisimov has increased nearly every single offensive category, warranting the increase in ice-time given. The Rangers will still need offense from players not named Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, etc. and Anisimov is certainly capable of providing some.
A lot will ride on whom Anisimov plays with. Last season, Artie thrived playing on a line with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. In fact, more than half of the points he scored came from playing on that line. Does he end up as the center between those two players next season? It will be a toss up considering the mastermind of the line shuffle John Tortorella will be busy in training camp.
At 6′ 4” and barely cracking 200 lbs., Anisimov will have to grow into his body more if he wants to sustain any level of offensive dominance. At the moment, his biggest flaw is his consistency. On some nights, Anisimov deftly maneuvers around defenders like the wind. On others, he’s barely a factor and lost in the shuffle. Maintaining a level amount of confidence while adding some size to help battle in the corners will help Anisimov’s progression greatly.
BOTTOM LINE: Anisimov has more than enough potential to crack the 60-point plateau HOWEVER it will depend on a) the quality of his line-mates and b) if he can maintain his confidence & consistency.