Does Anisimov Need the Del Zotto Treatment?
Artem Anisimov is a very good, responsible hockey player and should be a solid player for the Rangers for a long time however right now he is struggling mightily on the offensive side of the game and could benefit from the same time in the press box as the young defenseman, Del Zotto. Anisimov is currently mired in a 9 game point drought and is looking off the pace. While he is still making solid plays in his own zone the Rangers need him to contribute at both ends. The roster simply doesn’t have enough skill to carry players offensively and right now Anisimov is indeed being carried. A game or two in the press box would perhaps allow Anisimov the chance to see where he needs to be on the ice. He’s a good puck handler and is pretty strong on the puck (with room to grow) but doesn’t go to the net nearly enough given his skill set and size. Anisimov is also a player whose confidence levels are very critical to the way he plays the game. He’s admitted in the past to suffering confidence dips and again, seeing where he has gone wrong with the aid of a coach alongside him in the stands could really help his game.
Since starting the year on a tear – on a line with Callahan and Dubinsky – it’s been Anisimov who has carried the least momentum forward from the three young Blueshirts. Earlier in the year it may have been a nice alternative to see if Anisimov could have handled centering Gaborik but without confidence and form he’s further away from that prospect than he has ever been. Make no mistake, class is permanent and form temporary and the lanky Russian has shown enough in New York and Hartford to suggest he has the ability to be a good top 6 center for New York but he is entering a key period for his Rangers career. Given the way Derek Stepan is developing (and getting opportunities with Gaborik), given the continued development of juniors Roman Horak and Ethan Werek and the constant – likely accurate – reports the Rangers will pursue Brad Richards should he reach free agency, Anisimov needs to make sure he has a role on the Rangers long term. There are a lot of potential centers waiting for a chance, especially when the above list doesn’t count Erik Christensen, Chris Drury and 2010/11 revelation(?) Brian Boyle. All of a sudden, Anisimov needs to kick on; maybe the best way to do that is to watch from off the ice for a while.