After the Chicago Blackhawks traded away Nick Schmaltz, discussion has been sparked over which Chicago Blackhawk could be on the move sooner rather than later. Could Artem Anisimov be next?
Whether Chicago Blackhawks fans want to admit it or not — I know I certainly don’t —there isn’t much hope for the 2018-19 Chicago Blackhawks. Sure, a playoff appearance isn’t necessarily out of the question, however after seeing the team come down to Earth I’m momentarily allowing my focus to shift from the outcome of this season to how the ‘Hawks can be back to contending next season.
It’s not as if the Chicago Blackhawks are truly done, but they simply don’t have the fire power to contend for the Stanley Cup when they have to get through teams like the Nashville Predators or Winnipeg Jets in the dominant Western Conference.
That said, I’d love to see them prove me wrong and beat them both later this week.
Regardless, the Nick Schmaltz trade appears to be a step in the right direction towards actually competing next year. Schmaltz’s contract was going to cost the Blackhawks big, but with that off the books they now have an even bigger chunk of change to throw around (looking at you, Artemi Panarin).
That said, the Chicago Blackhawks need more than a superstar scorer to be a contender. This, my friends, is where Artem Anisimov comes in.
Since the departure of Panarin, Anisimov simply hasn’t been the same player. Patrick Kane and Panarin were able to run wild creating scoring chances and making highlight real level plays, all while Anisimov kept to himself, went hard to the net, and earned himself gritty goals.
It was a very, very effective process. For two seasons, Anisimov centered the best line in hockey.
Since then, times have been tough for him. His production has declined significantly, and Scott Powers does a good job of breaking it down here:
"“He went from averaging 28 points in 5-on-5 play his first two seasons with the Blackhawks to generating just 14 points last season. He was on the ice for 29 goals for and 41 goals against. His season stat line was salvaged by scoring a team-best 11 power-play goals, and he finished with 20 goals for his third consecutive season.”"
Though it would hurt to lose those “team-best 11 power-play goals,” Anisimov hasn’t shown that same level of output as he has yet to score on the power-play this season.
With only 3 goals to his name so far, new coach Jeremy Colliton is trying everything he can to get Anisimov going. Colliton has slotted him into the second, third and fourth line center spots since his arrival and most recently moved Artem to a wing.
Colliton’s love for the ‘Hawks’ current third line center, David Kampf, more or less eliminates that role as a possibility, and the arrival of Dylan Strome takes away the second line as an option for Anisimov as well given Strome’s potential and previous success with Alex DeBrincat.
Sure, Anisimov could be an effective fourth line center, but $4.55 million a year is an awful lot to pay someone in that role.
Seemingly, there simply isn’t a great fit for Anisimov on this team anymore. Scott Powers tackles it fully in his article, “Is Artem Anisimov still a fit with the Blackhawks?,” and, in the words of Randy Jackson, “it’s a no from me dawg.”
In my opinion, he could very well be the next to be traded, and soon.
Anisimov has tallied three straight 20-goal seasons and has proven to be a very productive center when in the right situation. Unfortunately, Chicago is not that situation anymore.
Artem Anisimov looks to be the type of player who could make a good team great, but doesn’t do much for a team floating above mediocrity.
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Though he hasn’t proven to be of much use to the current Chicago Blackhawks, I don’t see much reason that he can’t be for another team under the right circumstances. Stan Bowman and company may have to retain some of Anisimov’s salary, but getting something out of him would be ideal in comparison to the current situation.
What do you think? Should Anisimov be moved? Should the Hawks keep him and gamble on reuniting Kane and Panarin? Let’s talk in the comments.