Chicago Blackhawks’ Artem Anisimov And Feasibility Of Trading Him
By Colin Likas
Trade Partner 1: Florida
One option I see is the Florida Panthers. Beyond the fact Panthers GM Dale Tallon loves doing business with his former team, it seems the Panthers could use another center right now.
They’re using Denis Malgin and Derek Mackenzie as their third- and fourth-line centers, respectively. I feel Anisimov would be an upgrade over both. And if the Panthers feel like they’re closer to being a playoff team than not — they’re not off to the hottest start, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a team can’t be/believe it is a contender — maybe Anisimov is a piece they think pushes them toward the postseason.
The cap space works, as Florida has more than $7 million of it right now. The question then is what does Florida give up. The Blackhawks are probably going to be shopping for a defenseman at the trade deadline, so it makes sense to inquire at that position.
I would think Michael Matheson would be of interest. Hockey’s Future describes him as speedy and a skilled puckhandler, though he’s more offensively inclined than defensively. However, the Panthers just handed Matheson a massive eight-year contract at $4.875 million a season, bigger than Anisimov’s current hit.
That’d be a gamble to take on a 23-year-old blueliner, but it could pay off for the Blackhawks (though Florida might not be remotely interested in moving Matheson). The Blackhawks’ bigger concern might be how that contract would affect their cap moving forward.
Other defensemen worth looking at who are at or close to NHL-ready status are MacKenzie Weegar and Reece Scarlett.
Trade Partner 2: Los Angeles
The Blackhawks would likely have to retain some salary in this deal, but I could see the Kings being interested. They aren’t exactly afraid of working with less-mobile players, and they’re currently using Nick Shore and Brooks Laich at third- and fourth-line center, respectively, while Jeff Carter is out due to injury.
Adding Anisimov at center would make the Kings, off to a surprisingly strong start this season, a very deep team down the middle. In addition to Carter, Shore and Laich, Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe are key centers for the Kings.
The finances are a little stickier here. L.A. has a little over $4 million in cap space right now, which would be eaten entirely by Anisimov’s contract. But if the Blackhawks agree to withhold a little salary, I think that could work.
Then, they can ask the Kings for defenseman Jake Muzzin. He has mixed reviews in the hockey world, but the 28-year-old Muzzin is carrying a 55.25 Corsi-for mark across all situations while almost splitting his zone starts (slightly tilted to the offensive end). He has nine points in 10 games this season, can play big minutes and has a Stanley Cup win to his name.
Muzzin comes in at a $4 million cap hit for this season and the next two, so the Blackhawks getting him in a deal could mean not having to eat as much of Anisimov’s salary.
Trade Partner 3: Montreal
The Habs are probably pretty close to freakout mode right now after starting the season 2-7-1. GM Marc Bergevin could soon feel like he needs to make a move just to make one. Enter the Blackhawks with Anisimov.
Remember how all the talk this offseason was about the Blackhawks possibly acquiring forward Alex Galchenyuk in a deal involving Anisimov? Well, let’s revive that right now. The Habs have no idea what to do with Galchenyuk, as he’s been thrown from first line to fourth while sporting just two goals in 10 games.
Galchenyuk is a proven, young scorer, though. The Habs are just doing to him what Columbus did to Brandon Saad in the latter’s first season there. Galchenyuk would offer a vital boost of speed to Chicago’s forward corps, as well as some playmaking ability.
Galchenyuk comes in at a $4.9 million cap hit this season and the next two, so like with Matheson in Florida, this one would take some work. Montreal has more than $7 million in cap space, so taking Anisimov in return and eating some of Galchenyuk’s salary wouldn’t be an issue.
Of course, a lot of these players I’m throwing out as acquisition pieces are NHL-ready faces. The Blackhawks could pull a move where they trade Anisimov for draft picks and prospects. It wouldn’t be totally wild, as guys like Dauphin and Kampf could be asked to step in for Anisimov from the minors.
Overall, it’s hard to say if we should expect an Anisimov trade this season. It feels like a reasonable idea, but the Blackhawks are kind of in a gray area right now as far as contendership status. Should Bowman feel his team is capable of winning the Cup now, he’d probably not want to move Anisimov just yet.
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But Bowman made a number of moves this offseason in the name of looking toward the future. Parting ways with Anisimov given what has transpired since the 2017 offseason started would make a ton of sense in that regard.