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Why the Blackhawks Should Trade Artem Anisimov

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VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 31: Chicago Blackhawks Center Artem Anisimov (15) looks up ice during their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on October 31, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 4-2. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 31: Chicago Blackhawks Center Artem Anisimov (15) looks up ice during their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on October 31, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 4-2. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Artem Anisimov has been the subject of trade talks a lot lately and for good reason. His production doesn’t justify his contract and he’s not getting any younger.

This season, Anisimov often found himself bouncing between the 3rd line and 4th line. It’s not that he’s necessarily a bad player, but his production has declined and he isn’t fitting into Jeremy Colliton’s schemes. The Blackhawks have a few promising prospects making their way to the NHL, so Anisimov may find himself on a new team this offseason.

While a $4.55 mil cap hit won’t break the bank, that money could be better used on a younger player who will produce more or for future contract extensions. On top of that, Artem Anisimov will turn 31 on May 24th. There’s plenty of things working against Anisimov right now. It may be smart to trade him now while he still has some value.

Artem Anisimov’s Decline

No player was affected by the Artemi Panarin trade more than Artem Anisimov. He hasn’t been the same since 2017 and his production shows that. In 2017, he had his best statistical season where he tallied 45 points (22G, 23A) with a 9 ± rating in 64 games. Of course, these numbers came while centering the dynamic duo of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.

Artem Anisimov would struggle during the next two seasons. In 2017-18, his production took a major hit, as he only managed to score 31 points (20G, 11A) with a -17 ± rating in 72 games. This season, he saw a slight increase to 37 points (15G, 22A) with a -2 ± rating in 78 games. His 15 goals were his lowest output since the 2014-15 season.

Although it’s natural to expect a decline when such a dominant line gets dismantled, you have to find other ways to contribute and Anisimov hasn’t. His FOW% with the Blackhawks is 45.1% which is average at best. His power play numbers have trended downward as well. Last season, Anisimov only had 4 power play points (1G, 3A).

Who Would Replace Artem Anisimov?

There are a couple of in-house candidates that I had in mind, David Kampf and Philipp Kurashev. David Kampf saw his role increase during the 2018-19 season. Kampf was used on both the 3rd line and 4th line in various roles. He was used for defensive zone draws and seemed to thrive in a forechecking role. If Kampf can add just a little more offense to his game and improve his faceoffs a bit, then he may be able to adequately replace Artem Anisimov in a 3rd line role.

Philipp Kurashev will be a name to watch this offseason. He had a solid 2018-19 season with the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) where he racked up 65 points (29G, 36A) with a -8 ± rating in 59 games. Kurashev also had a good showing in both the IIHF World Junior Championship and IIHF Men’s World Championship tournaments.

Kurashev also played 3 games with the Rockford IceHogs in a limited role. The next step could be the NHL, but we will have to wait and see how he does in training camp and preseason games. He does look good in red, black, and white though.

Of course, there are also upgrades available via the NHL Draft and free agency. The Blackhawks have a lot on their plate right now and there are plenty of ways to upgrade the team. We will get a better idea of the direction the team is trying to go when the 2019 NHL Draft rolls around on June 21st.

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