Thankfully this isn’t an issue in the short term but upon Chris Drury’s return from injury and due to the apparent logjam of centers on the roster, will Derek Stepan in particular become a road block in Artem Anisimov’s development?
With Derek Stepan’s impressive start to camp, Brandon Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal and Chris Drury all roster certainties and one of Tim Kenney/Eric Christensen/Brian Boyle likely to get the remaining 4th line center job there seems to be a potential issue with getting Artem Anisimov suitable ice time to aid his development. Tortorella has already indicated he may try the captain, Drury in an offensive role (possibly 2nd line center or right wing) while Stepan has a good chance at starting the year centering Alex Frolov and Marian Gaborik on the top line. If Stepan doesn’t get that gig its likely one of Brandon Dubinsky or Vinny Prospal will move up to that line. So, where does the young Russian fit? This is all also ignoring the fact of an excess of wingers (negating the need to move a player such as Drury out wide) as well as Todd White all looking for spots.
Anisimov did an admirable job as a rookie on the 4th line last year and at times displayed his skill and flashed his huge upside while on his way to a solid 28 point rookie campaign. However, it seems like Stepan may be fast tracked into a scoring role, especially if he keeps up the camp standards he has set thus far. Unlike players like Todd White, Tim Kennedy and Chris Drury, Anisimov doesn’t seem to be able to move to the wing and play there. The problem is therefore this; if Stepan is indeed deserving of the top line spot and the 2nd line is filled by one of the other centers, are the Rangers able to play Anisimov in a role that benefits his development and maximise his skills while also prioritising the teams needs?
It may not be an issue right now but Anisimov’s role on the team bears monitoring as camp progresses. Where will he play?