Apr 7, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov (42) skates without the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the first period at Nationwide Arena. The Wild beat the Blue Jackets 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets Signing of Artem Anisimov First Step in Offensive Overhaul

Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen retained a promising young talent Wednesday when he signed center Artem Anisimov to a three-year contract.

It is a move everyone expected, but that should not downplay how important this deal is for the Jackets.

Anisimov, 25, was one of the players acquired by Columbus in the Rick Nash trade to the New York Rangers. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported that Anisimov would make $9.85 million in the deal.

Despite missing 13 games with injuries, Anisimov had 11 goals and 18 points for the Jackets in the lockout-shortened season.

It is obvious to anyone who watched Anisimov play, the Russian winger possesses a tremendous amount of talent. Before Anisimov’s arrival in Columbus, I cringed when the Jackets went to a shootout.

Anisimov is someone I actually have confidence in during the shootout. When Anisimov goes over the boards to shoot, I am shocked when he does not score.

Anisimov’s shoots the puck with laser-like precision. The thought of Anisimov playing an 82-game season next to Marian Gaborik excites me and should excite all Columbus fans.

It certainly excited Kekalainen when he talked about the signing to bluejackets.com Wednesday.

“I’ve watched him since he was draft-eligible so I’ve known him for a long time,” Kekalainen said. “When you get closer you appreciate the qualities that he brings even more. He’s very dependable; coaches trust him and use him a lot in different situations and often against the best players of the other team.”

[BlueJackets.NHL.com]

This is the start of what Columbus must do to bolster its offense, but it cannot be the end. Mark Huss mentioned in his draft preview the possibility of prying Thomas Vanek from Buffalo, which would be a tremendous pickup. Columbus must continue addressing their offensive needs through trade, free agency and the draft if this team is going to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference in 2013-2014.

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