Though we're still facing the reality of a lockout, it's our hope that this will be a short term problem rather than a long, drawn out battle. Because of that, we're going to keep talking about the new guys on the club, and hope that we'll get to see them in action sooner rather than later.
Position: Forward (C/RW)
Birthplace: Yaroslavl, USSR (I mean, it's Russia now, but back then...)
2011-2012 Stats: 79 GP, 16G 20A (36 pts), +12, 34 PIM
Previous Team: New York Rangers
Who Columbus Gave Up: Rick Nash, Steven Delisle
Contract: 1 year, $1.875 million (RFA in 2013)
Strengths: AA may not be a prime time goal scorer, but he's an extremely versatile two way forward who is comfortable at center or wing. With a big frame (6'4", 200 lbs) and excellent skating, he can get to the puck and use his size to help get control of it quickly, then drive the play up the ice. The sense from a lot of people I've asked about him is that he could be primed for a breakout if he gets the opportunity to see more ice time.
Weaknesses: As mentioned, he's a big guy, but he doesn't always use that size. It's also hard to say if the Rangers weren't using him more on offense because of their depth up front, or because there's a limit to how far his skills can really develop. It's likely that he's going to be asked to take on a bigger role in Columbus, and we can't be sure how he's going to react to that. Will he blossom, or will he wilt?
The Bottom Line: At the absolute worst case, Columbus got a young forward who is incredibly consistent in his own zone and knows how to push the play up ice, but may not be able to put everything together to make him a constant scoring threat. That's a very good thing to have in our bottom six, and if he does bring it together with more opportunity to show his skills, suddenly we have a legit top six guy who could become one of the driving forces for this club. I wouldn't be surprised if we see him on the top PK unit, forcing teams to treat him as a shorthanded threat, and possibly some second unit PP time. It's pretty much a win/win situation for the Blue Jackets once they can get this guy onto the ice.
What They're Saying:
I asked Joe Fortunato over at Blueshirt Banter to say a few words abut Anisimov...
It's really hard for me to answer questions on Artem Anisimov, because he's such a wild card. In the role he was used in (keep this in mind, it plays a major role in my analysis) he was a defensive player who helped create offense off of his defense.
Tortorella mostly used him on the third line. Putting him on the ice when he needed some defensive stability. Make no mistake, Anisimov is a remarkably consistent defensive player. He always seems to be in the right spot at the right time, his stick skills are fantastic and his ability to spring up the ice and go from defense to offense with the flip of a switch is fantastic.
With that being said. He saw no power play time. His offensive roles were limited, and he never really got a chance to flourish offensively.
I don't know if that's because of his skills or Tortorella simply not using him offensively because he needed him defensively.
He's a wild card. If you look at what he did on the Rangers, his offense took a step back last year. Was it because of him? Or because of the role Tortorella threw him in? We'll find out this year.
His ceiling is a second line center with great hands. But if he ends up being a third line defensive specialist, you still got a hell of a hockey player.