Throughout the 2009-10 playoffs, we’ll be grading each of this season’s Rangers individually and looking into their respective futures. Look for more Rangers Report Cards coming soon.
ARTEM ANISIMOV: 82 games, 12 goals, 16 assists, 28 points. -2, 32 PIM, 124 shots, 9.7 shooting percentage, 12:54 minutes per game.
As disappointing and forgettable as the 2009-10 season was for the New York Rangers, there were several individual campaigns that turned out to be bright spots. Russian rookie Artem Anisimov’s was among them.
No, the soon-to-be 22-year-old didn’t turn into a star player overnight this season. He didn’t become the offensive savior that this team needed. What he did do, however, was give fairly regularly glimpses at the potential player he can become in time: a smart, defensively responsible center with a hell of a wrist shot, soft hands, great size, and decent playmaking skills.
That’s pretty impressive, considering he still needs to put on a sizable amount of muscle, and the team he played on was undermanned and lacking both consistency and strategy.
At 6′4″ and about 195 lbs., “Artie” needs to become about 20-25 lbs. heavier. It’d make moving him off the puck even harder for defenders than it already is.
Learning to play with his head up would help that cause, as well. Perhaps the only real flaw in Anisimov’s first NHL season was the knockdown count. The young Russian was rocked by big hits several time, and seemed to become a target for agitators and “hitmen” on opposing benches.
When he wasn’t caught staring at the puck, though, he occasionally managed to show off some pretty fancy moves—slick dekes, effective puck protection, and good vision. He might have been able to do those sorts of things more often had he played with more ideal line mates, or line mates at the same time.
He’s a player who feeds off of puck possession. If he plays with players that can help him keep cycling the puck in the offensive zone, he becomes more dangerous and more effective.
Best of all, if he can learn to aim his laser beam of a wrist shot consistently, he could become somewhat of a sniper. If the native of Yaroslavl (a city just northeast of Moscow) could be matched with a winger or two that could actually find him with leading passes, 20-25 goals could be an annual tally.
Anisimov still needs to work on a number of areas.
His response time, his ability to protect himself on the ice, his decision making, and most importantly, his physique, all need to be improved. That may sound like a lot, but fortunately all of those issues can be helped with a player like Anisimov.
There is a lot to look forward to from No. 42, even if he may not be the superstar some observers may have been hoping he’d become.
ARTEM ANISIMOV GRADE: B+