Columbus Blue Jackets: Would an Artem Anisimov Return Make Sense?

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 28: Artem Anisimov
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 28: Artem Anisimov /

Columbus Blue Jackets fans are certainly familiar with Artem Anisimov, and there is a major need for a center who can play top six minutes in Columbus. Would Anisimov still be a fit?

The Columbus Blue Jackets are still searching for their center, which was a big talking point of the off-season and a bit of familiarity would never hurt. Artem Anisimov was acquired as part of the Rick Nash trade back in 2012, and remained with the Blue Jackets until the first Brandon Saad trade. Scrolling through Twitter the other day, I saw this tweet from Scott Powers of the Athletic:

This made me wonder whether or not reuniting Artem Anisimov not only with Artemi Panarin who he had much success with in Chicago, but also a bunch of other former teammates could help both him and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Anisimov’s biggest issue in Columbus was staying healthy, especially in his final season in the union blue, however that appears to have changed since he joined the Blackhawks. Last year he missed 18 games, compared to the 30 he missed in the 2014-2015 season; that’s a substantial drop.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

Since Artemi Panarin left the Windy City and joined the Columbus Blue Jackets, Anisimov has struggled He’s currently sitting at one goal and one assist through nine games, which is on pace for the lowest production of his career; at this pace he’d only have 18 points all season. However, if you were to insert him into the Columbus lineup, he could slot in alongside Panarin and Atkinson which would form a very similar line to the Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line that had much success in Chicago.

It certainly doesn’t need to be said that while Cam Atkinson is a very highly skilled player, he is not Patrick Kane. This means that the line’s success isn’t guaranteed, however it would have a fairly good shot at being a legitimate top line. In this case, Anisimov would be taking on a much greater role than he had in his previous stint with the Blue Jackets.

The biggest gamble about this move would certainly be Anisimov’s contract. His cap hit of $4.55M is a fair number for his skill level; and much cheaper than any other options on the market. The term is the most dangerous part of his contract, as he currently has four years remaining until free agency. This season he also has a full no movement clause which would drop down to a modified no trade clause next season, all contract details according to  If his play failed to pick up in Columbus, it would easily go down as one of the worst acquisitions in team history.

Artem Anisimov would certainly be a major gamble for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but if it were to work out Jarmo Kekalainen would look like a genius. If it were to fail, the Blue Jackets would be stuck with another overpaid fourth liner. Depending on the way the market shapes up, it may be worth the risk if it’s impossible to acquire anyone else at a fair price.