Is Stepan a Problem for Anisimov?

September 22, 2010, by

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?


  1. Mikeyyyy says:

    I am suprised aa has not had a shot at the top line thus far.
    He does have the skills. I think they areholding him back because of his conditioning.

  2. Dave says:

    I wound assune 2nd line center would be good for him, but that’s going to shift either Dubi or Prospal to 3rd line duties. AA needs top minutes to develop properly, but he also needs to earn them.

  3. wwwc9 says:

    So isn’t it ironic that Sather says role will be based on minutes and they’re willing to give Drury that spot? Over the last few years, his play has transitioned to a third line player.

    If AA is truly derserving (and why did he report to camp out of shape?), then he should get that spot. Otherwise, send him to hartford where he can light up the lamp for a year. Fourth line is a waste for him IMHO, getting 12 minutes a game.

  4. Section 121 says:

    It would be foolish for Torts to play one of his top three scorers last year on the third line this year. AA only played 12 to 13 mins a game last year and shouldn’t jump to 19 this year. Give him permanent third line duties and 15 to 16 mins a game for his development.

    Opening night;

  5. Brian says:

    A lot will depend on whether Stepan makes the team or not – if he does either one of the top 2 center spots are taken. Considering that he is a R-handed shot he may be considered at the second line with Frolov at his L flank.
    This would give a lineup that may look like this:

    Anisimov should be no lower than the 3rd line center and possibly 2nd depending on Stepan’s status, I think he should get a look at the top line but at this point it seems that he isn’t quite ready for it over the course of a a full season.

    Dubi should get a chance to play center on the top line to start the season – if he is going to have a break out season then the top line gives him the best opportunity – the Rangers are far better served playing Dubi over both EC and White. I think we should give Dubi the chance to show that he either has the ability to be a solid two-center or then convert him full time to the wing and be done with it.

    I think that White doesn’t make the team and is most threatened by EC’s presence over anyone elses.

    Let Kennedy and Boyle fight it out for the 4th line center spot.

    • zach says:

      Anybody else concerned over the idea of giving Stepan 1st line duties given the looming possibility of him hitting the rookie wall given the jump from college?

      • jurgenno88 says:

        not really because organisational depth is good at the position even if the top end talent isnt there (Stepan aside).
        If he hits the wall then you give Anisimov a chance or you put Dubinsky back at center or Prospal, Ec etc…. there’s enough options to share the burden until Stepan is physically ready to do it over a whole season.

        • zach says:

          but what about disrupting chemistry w/ the other top liners, like gabby and frolov?

          • jurgenno88 says:

            If he’s physically ready, ready skill wise and the chemistry is there then leave Stepan on the top line if he can produce.

            But… if he does falter physically, like a lot of NCAA products do in their first year (see: Gilroy, Matt) then all I’m saying is that we have capable replacements.

      • Brian says:

        I would rather Stepan be given the opportunity (only if he earns it) because his minutes could be shortened if he slows down around mid season. I agree with Jurgenno, although we don’t have proven top tier talent at center, we do have good depth to provide support if needed. At the very least it moves us further along as an organization. We would be far worse off if Stepan displays the talent necessary to play in the NHL but isn’t given the opportunity to use it.