Columbus Blue Jackets’ centre situation is worth watching

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Look long enough at the various players who might potentially available to the Edmonton Oilers at centre, and eventually the name Artem Anisimov comes up. He fits the direction of the organization – he’s big, he’s young, his underlying numbers are pretty good. He plays for a team in Columbus that has a surplus of talent up the middle.

Most importantly, though: He’s one of the few cases where there is also logical reason to think that there might be a change in his status as we get closer to training camp.

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Naturally, this is all hypothetical stuff. It’s possible the Jackets are perfectly content with Boone Jenner on the wing or plan to play Brandon Dubinsky there, possible the Oilers have other targets in mind, possible, too, that the team has resigned itself to betting on Leon Draisaitl and Mark Arcobello and just hoping for the best.

Insurance

The big question for Columbus is what happens with the Ryan Johansen negotiations. The most recent news came via The Columbus Dispatch’s excellent Aaron Portzline, who wrote the following on August 3:

Two weeks ago, it was reported in this space that… [Ryan Johansen’s camp]… was willing to accept a “bridge” contract. That left one hurdle between the player and the club: money. The two sides were believed to be at least $3 million apart per season on a two-year deal at that point, and it doesn’t appear that much progress has been made. Asked this weekend if they were still far apart, one of the interested parties responded via text: “Hectares.”

Johansen’s situation is going to be worth following, because from here it looks like one with real holdout potential.

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Johansen has draft pedigree (2010 fourth overall pick), and the frame (6’3”, 223 pounds) and scoring (33 goals, 63 points in 2013-14) of a potentially elite centre. He just turned 22 in July, and his camp has a lot of reasons for thinking he deserves a big payday.

On the other hand, his strong 2013-14 season was preceded by two thoroughly mediocre ones and he’s just come off his entry-level deal. The Blue Jackets have many reasons to think that a modest bridge contract is deserved here.

Having Anisimov on hand gives Columbus leverage. With Anismiov, Dubinsky and Jenner (and the oft-overlooked Mark Letestu) they could theoretically enter next season with Johansen still on the sidelines and be in decent shape. Certainly, the club wouldn’t want to make a move (if ever) until it was confident that Johansen was going to be good-to-go at the start of next season.

Edmonton

Craig MAcTavish5

In his July 1 press conference, G.M. Craig MacTavish suggested that it might take until September or October for Edmonton to figure out their centre depth chart. There aren’t a lot of good reasons to wait that late, if it’s at all possible to do something beforehand. Anisimov is one of the few players who might possibly shake loose at that point in time but who probably isn’t available in trade at the moment.

He’d certainly be an awfully good fit for the Oilers if he became available. He’s 6’4” and 200 pounds, and at age 26 he’s still in the heart of his career. He plays in all situations (including the penalty kill), produces offence and is paid pretty modestly for two more seasons. Too, Edmonton executive Scott Howson traded for him once before.

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Better still, if the Oilers were to move a significant roster player from the wing in trade, they’d likely be able to secure something resembling a replacement via free agency. It’s mid-August and we’re still waiting for players like Dustin Penner and Devin Setoguchi to find homes.

But then, that’s all hypothetical. Columbus could move Dubinsky to the wing or leave Jenner there. The contract dispute with Johansen might drag out into the season. The Oilers might opt to just roll the dice on with what they have.

It’s just an interesting situation to keep an eye on.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS


    • bazmagoo

      Given our discussions in other threads I didn’t think we’d ever agree…but I’m 100% on board with you on this one!

      I’m extremely worried about going into the season with Arco being expected to play and contribute. I really liked him last year but we were a 30th place team…I’m quite sure if he’s playing 2C we are again a 30th place team.

      • I would love to Johansen or even Anisimov in an Oiler sweater.
        Given the positive changes that have taken place this summer that move could actually make the Oil a playoff team.
        Relying on Arco as a 2nd line C is not going to do that.
        I like the kid, he has drive and enthusiasm, but he’ll get beat up in that role over 82 games.
        Get us a top 2 C please.

  • The Last Big Bear

    David Perron was tied for the team lead in scoring, on a team that is absolutely dying for goal scoring. He led the team in hits, on a team that is dying for physicality. He led all actual roster players in PIMs, on a team notorious for their lack of grit.He is the hardest back checker in the top-6, on a team that is dying for defence.

    It is absolutely beyond me why Oilers fans don’t consider this guy to be a nigh-on untouchable part of the core. He is delivering everything the team needs from the wing.

    If I had to pick between Perron and Yakupov, Yakupov would spend the next 6 weeks on the Injured Reserve with whiplash he’d be outta town so fast. And I’m saying that as someone who thinks Yakupov will be a 30+ goal scorer. Because dont look now but Perron is also pushing 30 goals, but he also brings a much more complete game than Yakupov ever will.

    I don’t know if a deal is there to be had with CBJ or not, but if I was shopping Perron, I’d be looking for Dubinksy AT LEAST. I don’t know if Perron would be that valuable to the Jackets, but I DO think he’s that valuable to the Oilers.

  • bazmagoo

    Anisimov would be a great fit. A short term 2C for a year or two while Draisaitl develops, and eventually a better than most 3C.

    Trading Yaks in any type of deal for him is a terrible idea. Anisimov playing with Yak is what the end game should be. I would take a look at moving a D prospect along with a pick, and maybe an overrated F prospect like Yakimov.

    Yakimov at best is a lesser version of Anisimov, and Anisimov is already an established 26 year old quality centre.

  • bazmagoo

    I got completely poo-pooed on for suggesting we should trade Sam Gagner plus the first overall pick 2012 for Ryan Johanssen and second overall 2012. Everyone thought I was crazy, well who’s crazy now!

    Ha just a lucky guess but I’ve always liked Johanssen’s potential, Columbus has a potential superstar there.