#42, Artem Anisimov
Artem Anisimov quietly scored the most goals of his young career in his first 82-game season in Columbus. Combined with the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season, Arty has averaged about .49 points per game during his time in Columbus and has supplied valuable scoring for the team. The 26 year old, 6’4″ forward has yet to hit his prime and has the size and talent to increase his scoring and cement himself as the second line center in Columbus throughout his prime.
A Quick Look at 2013-2014:
This year was probably the best year of Anisimov’s life so far, at least it would be for most people. First off, he signed the biggest contract of his life last offseason, assuring 3 years with an average annual salary of $3,283,333. He followed up his contract extension by representing Russia in the Olympics for the first time and scoring the most goals so far in his 5-year NHL career. To top off his hockey accomplishments, Arty and his wife had a baby girl, whom he missed his only game of the year for. Talk about a crazy year.
Now let’s get to the stats: Anisimov accumulated 22 goals and 17 assists for 39 points in a consistent 81 games. That’s good for .48 points per game and $84,188 per point. While this is right around his career average, Artem needs to pick up the point production if he wants to truly secure his place on the CBJ second line. But all in all it’s fairly impressive that Anisimov performed so well considering that he was plagued with a revolving door of line mates last year as Nick Foligno was the only true top 6 LW until Boone got comfortable in that position. I believe the 2014-2015 season will be a prime opportunity for Arty to increase his stats, but first we have to look at how he scored his goals last season.
This year, Artem scored almost all of his goals from the low slot. These goals mainly include rebounds, cuts to the net, and breakaways. There are ways to increase all 3 of them by experimenting with different line mates (specifically Left Wings), but not necessarily an “end all, be all” fix unless he works on varying his game.
I believe that the acquisition of Scott Hartnell and putting him on the second line LW with Arty can increase Anisimov’s production because of how many shots Hartnell puts on net. Last year, Hartnell put on a total of 9.4 shots per 60 minutes on ice, or 222 in total. To compare this with the team’s other top 6 pure LW, Nick Foligno put on a total of 5.9 shots per 60 minutes on ice for a total of 113 on the season. Hartnell’s relative Corsi was also miles ahead of both Boone’s (who played LW on the top line) and Foligno’s at an impressive +6.2%.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you stats about Hartnell when this is an article about Anisimov. What do Hartnell’s shooting numbers have to do with increasing Anisimov’s point totals? Well, it all comes down to this: A significant increase in shots on net from anyone on a line with Anismov opens up a lot of chances around the net and in the slot, especially in the rebound department. Additionally, Hartnell spends most of his time around the net, similar to Anisimov. This line could put many pucks into the back of the net if they can find a way to create havoc near the crease.
Hartnell’s physical presence can also open up the ice for Anisimov. Hartnell can cause many turnovers by taking players off the puck and along the boards. If Scott can help create turnovers in the offensive zone, Anisimov can take cuts to the net and potentially provide rebound chances for Hartnell and whatever RW plays with the two.
Though, Hartnell is considered to be a rather poor skater, which could really take away from Anisimov’s on-rush chances. Both Boone and Foligno might be a better option for Anisimov in the open ice. These differing factors are why it’s so important to have added another top 6 winger, but I won’t go into detail about that.
Arty could also adjust his game himself to increase his scoring ability. By spending most of his time and shooting most of his shots from the low slot, he becomes a fairly predictable player. Yet, if he adjusts his game and shoots mainly from the lower slot and maybe the high slot or the left and right circles, he adds a whole new element to his game.
This isn’t to say that Anisimov should entirely change his game. His presence around the crease has been a very valuable attribute to the team and will continue to be effective because the low slot is the most dangerous area on the ice, but Arty has the accuracy and power in all of his shots that he can be a force that could span the entire offensive zone. He doesn’t have to be concentrated into one area of the ice. Of course, this is easier said than done and he’ll need to put in a lot of work this offseason to be able to adapt like that, but I feel it’s something that could improve him as a player.
What keeps Arty somewhat hard to predict is his backhand, which in my opinion is severely underrated. He used a backhand on 35 out of 157 shots last year, which is about 22% of the time. As a comparison, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane, who both have infamous backhands, used their’s about 16% and 13% of the time, respectively.
Cap Hit Comparables:
Anisimov’s latest contract is a very cap friendly for a second line center. His contract puts him with notables like Clarke MacArthur, Derek Stepan, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. You may notice that all of these players outproduced Arty as far as point totals are concerned. Of course, there are other players within Arty’s cap hit realm that produced less than him, but these players are producing around the number that Arty should (and could) consistently be at.
Although Anisimov had a fairly successful season, he needs to produce more to turn the CBJ second line into a forceful trio and it’s all centered around him for the time being. New acquisitions like Scott Hartnell may help Anisimov play towards his strengths, so look for his production numbers to increase next year. Anisimov’s talent and effort level is there, he just needs the right pieces and fair bit of work to vary his game to get to that next level that may turn him and Columbus into a force.
Next up for me, I’ll be taking a look at Corey Tropp’s 2013-2014 campaign. I will also be working on Prospect Profiles after the draft that will analyze and introduce the newly acquired draftees and our other prospects.