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I was looking at the message board today, when I saw a thread started by Loffen advertising his next great music video. I was actually surprised at the player he chose to highlight. Generally speaking, Artem Anisimov isn’t very highly thought of in Ranger fans minds. He’s a “nice” player to most fans, who does some good stuff, but doesn’t blow your mind every shift. The funny thing here is that, in my opinion, the young player on the current Rangers that I am most excited about this season, wasn’t Staal, Dubinsky, Callahan, MDZ, etc. It was Artem Anisimov.

I know he doesn’t have the sexy numbers that MDZ has (outside of his ugly +/-). He doesn’t have the physicality that Dubinsky has. He doesn’t have the all out, do anything to win you a game, spirit that Cally has. What he does have is the best hockey mind I have seen on this team since Martin Straka left. Straka was always thought of as a speedster 2-way winger, but honestly, the thing that always struck me was the way he thought the game, and that is something that Anisimov has, in spades. He’s so young, but his hockey mind is bordering on elite, at least in terms of the Rangers players. I think he is the smartest guy we have on the team, second being Staal, and third being captain cardboard. Arty reads plays so quickly and is almost always in the right position, be it defensively, offensively, etc. In fact he’s so good at reading plays, that he hardly ever tries to take chances out there, which probably hurt his offensive numbers, but probably ingratiated himself in Torts’ house of trusted players. The final minutes of a close game, Torts never seemed to be scared to put out Arty. You can use him on the PK, the PP, at even strength, with elite players, with grinders, with speedsters, with muckers, with goons, with pests, and he just does his thing. He’s so easily able to adapt to whatever role he is given it is almost unbelievable to watch. His subtle ways of chipping pucks in and go for a change rather than take an extended shift, or his ability to get the puck up and out of the zone quickly are absolutely astonishing for a kid his age.

I am probably going a bit overboard with my praise, but if there is one thing I appreciate, and dare I say covet in a player, it is hockey IQ. I myself am not the best player, I don’t have great hands, I don’t have great speed, I don’t have the hardest shot, but I do consider myself a pretty smart player, and to me, to have a player with AA’s IQ, and to couple it with SUPERB hands, and outstanding size, you have the makings of an absolute monster. Don’t be surprised if AA follows up his solid 12 goal, 16 assist performance with 25 goals and 30 assists next season. He’s only going to get better.


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