Blackhawks Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman likes new center Artem Anisimov so much that he's already working on signing him to an extension.
“He’s a player that we’ve been trying to acquire for quite some time,” Bowman said. “I’ve talked a long time about our desire to find a big centerman. There’s very few of them in the NHL.”
The 6-foot-4 Russian was a second-round pick of the Rangers in 2006. He scored 46 goals and tallied 62 assists in 244 games with New York before heading to Columbus for parts of three seasons. Anisimov registered 84 points (40G, 44A) in 168 games with the Blue Jackets.
“I think he fits in very nicely with our team,” Bowman said. “He’s able to play offensively as well as a penalty-killing role. He’s done a little bit of everything in his career.”
The Blackhawks acquired Anisimov on Tuesday along with Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a 2016 fourth-round pick in exchange for Brandon Saad, Alex Broadhurst and Michael Paliotta.
“It’s a challenge to try to negotiate a contract,” Bowman said of the Saad contract talks. “We gave it our best shot. We worked hard at it with Brandon and his agent and weren’t able to reach an agreement. When that became apparent, then we turned our focus to try and improve our team for next season.”
Dano could be one of those players that has an instant impact. The 2013 first-round pick tallied 19 points in 35 games as a rookie last season, with a team-best 54.1 shot attempt percentage at even strength. He had an impressive end to the season for a team that missed the playoffs largely due to injuries, but won 15 of their last 17 games, and could have star potential down the road.
“He’s an exciting player,” Bowman said. “I think he’s a guy that's going to become favorites of our coaching staff, and I think our fans will like his style as well. He’s a nice player to add to this mix of young players that we have here. I think he’s going to surprise some people with his all-around game.”