With the Chicago Blackhawks opening their training camp ahead of the regular season, we thought it would be a good time to introduce fans to some of the new faces that will be hitting the ice at the United Center this October.
To get things started, we've profiled new center Artem Anisimov.
A second round pick of the New York Rangers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Anisimov has played in the Big Apple and with the Columbus Blue Jackets thus far in his NHL career. Playing mainly as a center, Anisimov has 86 goals and 106 assists in 412 career NHL games, and before he was limited by injuries last season, he had a career year with the Blue Jackets, scoring 22 goals for Columbus.
How Did He Get Here?
Anisimov came to the Blackhawks in a trade with the Blue Jackets in late June, with winger Brandon Saad serving as the centerpiece of the deal. A short time later, the Blackhawks inked Anisimov to an extension that will keep in Chicago for the next six seasons.
What Does He Bring the Hawks?
While the Blackhawks have searched far and wide for a second line center that can stick around and be effective for the long-term, it appears that they have finally found their man in Anisimov. He isn’t the most offensively gifted center in the league, but if he can play with some of the talented wingers that the Hawks have, including Patrick Kane and Teuvo Teravainen, then his numbers should go up in that regard.
Anisimov could potentially play some with the Blackhawks’ penalty killing unit, especially with the departure of Saad from the mix. He only had four power play assists and zero goals on the man-advantage last season, so it’s unclear whether or not he’ll see power play time with the Hawks.
Anisimov will also need to work on his face-off skills, as he hasn’t won more than 50 percent of his draws in any season of his career. The Blackhawks have shown a track record of helping players to improve in this area, with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw serving as success stories, but with a veteran like Anisimov, it’s unclear whether or not their magic will still work.
Our 2015-16 Prediction:
If Anisimov can stay healthy, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him score more than 20 goals for the Hawks, and we also think there will be a decent uptick in his assist total as well. For the sake of putting concrete predictions out there, we’ll go with 22 goals and 30 assists for Anisimov next season.
More importantly, Anisimov will give the Blackhawks a veteran presence up the middle that will allow them to be patient with Teravainen as they explore a potential move to center for the youngster. At some point this season, we could see Anisimov drop down to the third line and play a Dave Bolland/Antoine Vermette role for the team, but at the very least he has bought them some time before they would have to pull the trigger on that kind of move.