When the same thing happens season after season you begin to wonder whether a player truly is developing or whether he has already hit his ceiling. Artem Anisimov, every year with the Rangers, has had spells where he looks like a great piece for the future and then periods when he disappears.
Anisimov is pointless in twelve (yes, twelve) games prior to Thursday’s Penguins game. That’s almost impossible given his line mates for the majority of those games and even lately with a reduced role Anisimov is still averaging over 15 minutes/game on the season. That’s plenty of opportunity to make an offensive contribution, one that his team needs.
The Russian is still on pace to hit 40 points for the season but that’s just it. Is the talented forward topping out as a 40 point player or do people still see his skill set, his size and age and think (hope?) he can make it to a 60 point player? It’s looking less likely with every additional barren streak.
What’s more, Anisimov is moving himself into dangerous territory. Derek Stepan has made himself almost untouchable as he develops nicely this year. With Gaborik, Richards and Callahan going nowhere anytime soon and Brandon Dubinsky (prior to injury) showing signs of getting back to his normal, top six self, should the Rangers look to make a significant addition this season Anisimov may be the forward that gets dangled off the roster.
With the Russian’s poor play and the other aforementioned players security on the roster, Anisimov’s potential may play against him. Despite his up and down season his potential is still appealing to other teams as trade bait. A relatively small contract, youth on his side and a solid (but unspectacular) CV, Anisimov would be a solid starting point for many trades negotiations around the league.
As the Rangers continue to move towards the playoffs, Anisimov may either be auditioning to secure his Rangers future or become a trade piece. We discussed it at the start of the season that Anisimov may be in a play-off with Derek Stepan for a long term future in the top six with the Rangers. Right now, he’s losing hands down. It promises to be an important few weeks before the deadline, for the Russian.