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What is Artem Anisimov’s future with Blackhawks?

The center lost his spot on the second line and could be on his way out of Chicago this summer.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks’ center Artem Anisimov (15) after his goal against the Buffalo Sabres
Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

Second City Hockey continues our Blackhawks 2018-19 season recap on the forwards with center Artem Anisimov.

Anisimov lost his role as the Blackhawks’ second-line center when the team acquired Dylan Strome in November. Still, Anisimov’s presence as a middle-six center has continued largely on the third line this season. He added 15 goals and 22 assists this season, but the team may be better without him.

Anisimov as a Blackhawk

Anisimov had a complex season. Despite his lowest goal total with the Blackhawks and the second-fewest points he’s put up with Chicago (after the 2017-18 season), Anisimov did make some of his lines and linemates better.

Anisimov: lines, linemates data

Line Time on Ice Corsi Shot Share Goal Share Expected Goal Share High-Danger Share
Line Time on Ice Corsi Shot Share Goal Share Expected Goal Share High-Danger Share
Kane, Saad, Anisimov 91:58:00 51.6 44.12 55.56 40.6 38.71
Kane, Saad, w/o Anisimov 196:58:00 52.63 49.12 50 46.27 35.53
Saad, Kahun, Anisimov 99:06:00 56.62 60 50 53.09 49.12
Saad, Kahun, w/o Anisimov 189:36:00 52.62 52.02 58.33 48.19 44.59
Kane, Strome, Anisimov 149:18:00 39.57 39.39 53.85 35.49 30.16
Kane, Strome, w/o Anisimov 194:04:00 46.94 44.77 51.43 45.73 37.97
Kane w/Anisimov 485:48:00 44.98 44.11 58.14 39.93 36.13
Kane w/o Anisimov 929:04:00 50.83 47.92 54.63 47.49 42.64
Saad w/Anisimov 350:42:00 55.02 53.3 50 49.48 48.23
Saad w/o Anisimov 749:13:00 51.58 50 45.83 46.19 42.95

While Patrick Kane, and every line including him, was worse with Anisimov, Brandon Saad, and every line including him, was better for having Anisimov. Still, none of these lines were great, and most of them were quite bad.

Part of that is because Anisimov had an awful season.

The RAPM (Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus) chart shows how a player contributes individually, aside from any outside factors. Anisimov was bad. He was more than one standard deviation worse than average in both goals for and in expected goals against. On the power play, Anisimov was a huge drain as well.

The Blackhawks were far below average with Anisimov on the power play and above average, slightly, with him off. That’s not good news for a player who makes his money as a net-front presence guy, and is quite slow outside of that.

Anisimov is not doing much anymore, and his lack of results as the net front presence speaks for itself. Just one power-play goal last season means that Anisimov, if he remains in Chicago this offseason, should no longer get time there.

Anisimov was bad off the power play as well last season. His -2.17 relative expected goals were 21st on the Blackhawks’ roster. He was a -.7 wins above replacement player, and had -4.2 goals above replacement.

And the Blackhawks have players who can take Anisimov’s place as a bottom-six center for a much cheaper price. David Kampf, who will need a new contract, can be re-signed and an AHL player like Matthew Highmore can be promoted to the fourth line.

Anisimov as a trade asset

So perhaps Anisimov is more valuable away from Chicago than in it. After all, Anisimov still scored 15 goals and can represent good center depth for teams. The remaining three playoff teams each have excellent depth, and Anisimov could help another contending team increase theirs.

With two years at $4.55 million remaining on his contract, the Blackhawks could retain some salary to get an even better return for him. For a third-line center able to add 15 goals per season and perhaps more, there should be a fair market. After all, there’s no John Tavares this year, with the best center available being Matt Duchene.

Anisimov would be a much cheaper option for those who miss out on Duchene. The Blackhawks also are no longer in salary cap hell, which means they could wait for the best return, or keep Anisimov around for another season (or trade him at the deadline).


What grade would you give Anisimov’s performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    (49 votes)
  • 55%
    (305 votes)
  • 29%
    (163 votes)
  • 4%
    (26 votes)
546 votes total Vote Now

All stats courtesy Hockey Reference, Natural Stat Trick, Evolving Hockey and Corsica