Columbus Blue Jackets’ centre situation is worth watching


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.


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.


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.


  • Do what Weight did?

    Any speculation on the cost for Anisimov? Would it need to be a roster player? Young D prospect plus a 2nd?

    If we trade a winger as suggested which one? Yakupov for Anisimov+ and then sign Settogucci?

    • Do what Weight did?

      Hmmm. Does it help if I direct the question of cost to Jonathan Willis?

      Mr. Willis, what do you think Anisimov would cost? Now or after (presumably) RJ signs?

      • The name I had in mind was David Perron, honestly. Contracts are a fit, and Perron probably has more value on the wing that Anisimov does.

        You’re looking at trading a good player (or even a good player plus) for a better positional fit.

        • I’m not sure why that statement got trashed?

          Perron & Petry are the only players that make sense.

          If your CBJ do you want Yakupov for one of your top centre’s?……..Go on!

          I’d do Perron for Anisimov.

          I prefer, Johansen though.

          • The Last Big Bear

            JW – the other one to look at is Frans Nielsen in New York.

            The Isles have Tavares – Grabovski – Nielsen – Bailey – Strome – Nelson – Cizikas

            That’s pretty good depth. The Isles would likely want to move Bailey, but if you are giving up Perron, perhaps you shoot for Nielsen.

        • Numenius

          I’m not convinced trading Perron for Anisimov is a good idea. Perron was such a large contributor last year (in goals and as a general sh*t disturber) that losing him will likely create a bigger hole than Anisimov can fill. Plus Arco’s numbers suggests he can fill the 2C role almost as well as Anisimov. When playing with skill, he makes everyone else better (as the WOWY says), he had excellent Corsi, and his P/60 was almost as high as Anisimov’s last year (1.8 vs. 1.9).

          • ubermiguel

            Don’t blame the stats, blame the user! Arco’s stats were good, but we only got a look for a 1/2 season. Anisimov would be a better 2C choice because he’s a proven NHL player with far more experience. But no way could I support a Perron trade, I lived through too many years of the Oilers getting rid of players as they entered their prime years.

          • Numenius

            For me with Arco last year it was a sure case of the advanced stats matching up with saw him good. He hits like he thinks he is Anisimov’s size.. was always in the right position defensively and played quite well with skilled players. Take a minute to review Desharnais’s career path in Montreal only with Gallagher’s fight and I think you get Arco this coming year. I know this is very optimistic but no way I trade Perron.

          • Numenius

            I didn’t say Arco was “as good” as Anisimov, I said his numbers “suggest” that he “can” fill the 2C role “almost as well” as Anisimov, which involves a lot of qualifications. I could also have included ubermiguel’s qualification that Arco hasn’t played much and so his numbers can’t be trusted as much as Anisimov’s at this point.

            So yes, Anisimov is clearly the better choice for 2C now, if you are simply choosing between him and Arco. Advanced stats don’t deny that.

            But you’re not simply choosing between him and Arco. You’re choosing between 1) gaining Anisimov by losing your only clear 2LW, Perron, and 2) keeping Perron and pairing him with Arco, who showed signs last year of being a legitimate 2C, despite his size.

          • Serious Gord

            Trading Perron is the perfect example of buying low and selling high. Perron had a career year last season – now would be the perfect time to deal him to get what the oil desperately needs. MacT and his two predecessors never have done that, rather they fall in love with the inventory and sell well last the due date.

          • The Last Big Bear

            Yeah, they could trade him for a defensively responsible two-way physical forward, the kind of gritty player who could lead the roster in hits AND goals.

            You know, the kind of player Edmonton has desperately needed for years.

        • bazmagoo

          Jonathan, are there are free agent centers left who could be a long shot potential fit on a 1 year, you need to prove you belong in the league type deal? I’m a fan of hedging your bets, and I just don’t think there is enough competition for spots at center currently. Everywhere else I’m happy with the additions of talent.

  • ubermiguel

    Any trade with Columbus better have Jared Boll coming to the Oilers!!! The OIL STILL NEED WAY MORE TOUGHNESS-TRUCULENCE!!! Mark FRASER and Paul BISSONETTE are still available and very cheap!!! wakie wakie MACT!!! Just Sayin!!! The a WONGER knows ENFORCERS!!!

  • bazmagoo

    Johanssen is a prime example of a prospect being brought up the right way. Seems like the Oilers have every intention of throwing Draisaitl to the wolves, as they’ve done unsuccessfully with others. That’s a risky move on the organizations part, would hope that they would eventually learn from their mistakes.

    Why burn an entry level year when all it can potentially hurt a prospect’s confidence? Only in Oilerville.

      • bazmagoo

        My mistake, I thought he got brought in slowly. Well that throw’s my whole argument out the window, thanks! Haha kidding around, thanks for the correction.

    • Basshole39

      Ryan Johansen was not ready for the NHL in his first year as his numbers would indicate. 69 points in 71 WHL games.

      Leon Draisatl 105 points in 64 WHL games! that is a pretty big difference.

      • Basshole39

        I agree. At the end of the day all I cate about is if Drasaitl can make the jump. If after 9 games it looks like he can play then let him play. If however he looks lost and they keep him up, that’s when I will have a problem.

    • are you referring to guys like Hall & Nugent Hopkins, or some of the defencemen playing above their position for the Oilers? Do you think guys like Hall & Nuge would be more effective NHL players now if the oilers had sent them back to junior?

      • The Last Big Bear

        He’s probably talking about guys like Gagner, Cogliano, MPS, etc.

        You know, Oilers first round draft picks who were unsuccessfully thrown to the wolves.

        Players who were put immediately into key roster spots, and performed well enough, but whose development was completely stunted and they never again even managed to match their rookie production.

        You guys know that’s not normal right?

        • Gagner & Cogliano made the team on merit as rookies. MPS had already played 2 years in the SEL before gettign a shot with the Oilers. He played a full season in edmonton, then got demoted to the minors the following season, and was traded a year later. That’s hardly throwing him to the wolves.
          The fact that gagner and paajarvi couldn’t develop into better NHL players is more their fault than the Oilers. Only Sam Gagner knows why he absolutely refuses to know where opponents are when the play is in the Oilers defensive zone. I doubt the Oilers told him to completely ignore defensive responsibility for 7 years, or told Paajarvi that he needs to play a soft, timid style if he wants to be an NHL player.
          Cogliano has apparently done well for himself in Anaheim.

          • The Last Big Bear

            Ah yes, the “No true Scotsman” argument.

            The Oilers have never ruined a good prospect, because if a guy didn’t make it, he obviously wasn’t a good prospect.


            Never mind that these kids could all play at the NHL level as teenagers when they first made it to the Oilers.

            They were just bad prospects.

          • Randaman

            I haven’t heard about the “No true Scotsman” argument but saying the either of the three have been ruined seems to have no basis.

            There is an implicit assumption in your argument, that if either of three had been handled differently when they were with Oil (i.e. not played in the NHL until some older age) they would have turned out to be better players. I don’t see how one can come to this conclusion.

            I have not been a big Gagner supporter, but claiming that he is “ruined” is far from true. A player that can put up 40 points a year in the NHL will be a wealthy man. Cogs was the 25th pick in 2005. Turning the 25th pick into a solid NHLer is a success story.

            The jury is still out on MP, he might be in the SEL in KHL in a year if he doesn’t show something more. But couldn’t one make an equally legit argument that the Blues have ruined him? If this come to pass, I would say the logical conclusion in the MP was never going to be am NHL player.

          • The Last Big Bear

            I repeat this over and over, but I’ll add it again.

            Rushing a player does not necessarily mean bringing him into the NHL too soon.

            You can put a player in the NHL without giving him top-6 minutes and relying on him to be a key producer.

            Pavel Datsyuk played bottom-6 minutes until he was 25 years old, and its not because he couldn’t carry the load. That’s how the Detroit model works.

  • Britts94

    Willis: “that the team has resigned itself to betting on Leon Draisaitl and Mark Arcobello and just hoping for the best.”

    This is where the smart money is waged on.

    • Do what Weight did?

      I would bet that MacT feels the same way as a lot of fans: make a trade for a C if the right deal comes along, but if no such deal comes up, then Leon and Arco. I

      I’d very much like MacT to find a C without giving up too much, but I’m not expecting it. Resignation is a good word for it.

  • Serious Gord

    1) trade anisimov for Perron – maybe we can squeeze out a second as well (56p vs 38), if not oh well

    2) petry + mid round pick + mid tier prospect for boychuk + Kelly – boston needs to shed cap and we have a better chance to sign boychuk long term vs petry

    3) sign penner – Mac t should swallow up his pride on this one. Guy is capable of top 6 minutes and turns it on in the playoffs.

    4) sign loktionov for additional centre depth in the org. Give a guy like moroz to play with in the minors to keep the offense rolling

    Hall nuge eberle

    Penner anisimov yakupov

    Pouliot Kelly Purcell

    Hendricks Gordon arco/pitlick/pinnizzoto

    Nikitin Fayne

    Marincin boychuk

    Ference Schultz

    That’s a deep team that will climb out of the basement and finish 8th to 10th

    • The Last Big Bear

      1) Perron for Anisimov is ridiculous. The Oilers lose that trade coming and going, and Anisimov is not the long-term solution to anything. The Oilers would be giving up their most complete forward and probably most tradeable asset for a mediocre stop-gap in a position they’ve made no real attempt to fill.

      2) You think 9 months of Jeff Petry, and a $5 scratch card, is the best offer Boston can get for Kelly AND Boychuk combined?

      3) “Pancakes at 27 years old couldnt carry the team out of last place. But Pancakes at 32 years old will lead us to the promised land!!”

      4) Loktionov is not holding out so he can play for the Oilers’ AHL affiliate.

      If I was cheering for a team that had been rebuilding for 7 years, gutting the roster for picks and prospects, doing thing like hitting the draft with 3 first rounders, slinging offer sheets, getting 3 first overall picks *in a row*, etc… and after 7 years of full-bore youth movement ^THAT^ is what the roster looked like, AFTER my fantasy dream trades…

      …I would be PI$$ED.

      • The Last Big Bear

        Follow me on this:

        1) Perron may leave as a UFA in a couple years and so may Anisimov however we need a big 2 way centre capable of playing 2nd line minutes. Anisimov does that. Who is to say Anisimov won’t put up 55 points next year with better wingers? Also we need more PK guys, he is good at killing penalties.

        Think of it this way, Anisimov + properly developed Draisaitl (not being forced into 2nd line minutes) or Perron + rushed Draisaitl. I know what I’d take.

        Big centres aren’t readily available, please, find another candidate that Perron will fetch

        2)Kelly is coming off injury so there is risk (I believe it was his back), so a mid round pick is fair. Boychuk is UFA in a year as well. How many teams will offer up a roster player for a guy they may not keep in a year? Most deals for pending UFA’s are pick + prospect. I’ve provided cap relief + pick + player and would be ok with a prospect added. It’s a competitive offer but sure it could be beaten.

        3)Penner is Penner, you’ll get 40 to 50 points from him. Not sure why you think he’s the reason we get pulled from the basement? Didn’t say that anywhere. My whole premise is adding more size and two way ability through our forward ranks with players that have NHL resumes. Apparently you are against this? Penner + Anisimov is better than Perron + internal centres we have now. As I said above, I don’t want Leon rushed, would prefer him back in the dub.

        4)Maybe he thinks he can beat out Arcobello to get that other top 9 spot. I’m sure he sees that opportunity here.

        By all means provide me with realistic alternatives. Dont come back and say bundle Yak or Eberle for an elite dman, because they aren’t available.

        I’m waiting.

        • The Last Big Bear

          1) Lets set the framework here. The 2C spot is vacant because it was intentionally left vacant for Draisaitl. I don’t think that was a wise decision, but that’s where the club is now. If you want a stop-gap centreman you sign (just for example) Olli Jokinen at $3.5m x 2 years, or offer to double the term and/or salary of someone else from the laundry list of veteran centres who went for very cheap 1 year contracts.

          Just because the Oilers missed that boat doesn’t make it a good idea to now move David Perron for a stop-gap solution. You can move him for a long term solution, or move another asset for a short-term solution, or you can just buck up and eat this season. But I see no long-term benefit to moving Perron for Anisimov. If you think Draisaitl should be in juniors then send him to juniors, the presence or absence of Anisimov should not be a factor in that decision.

          2) That’s fair. I just don’t see Boston taking that offer.

          3) I think Penner + Anisimov might be a modest upgrade on Perron + Arcobello THIS SEASON. But this season is a write off, and long-term I think Perron + Draisaitl is the best possible outcome. Keeping Perron doesn’t mean you have to rush Draisaitl, Draisaitl will be rushed because that is the plan.

          4) Roman Horak should also have every reasom to think he could compete for, and win, a roster spot on the Oilers. The fact that he went to the KHL after playing in North America since juniors, regardless of whether it was his idea or the Oilers’, would give me pause if I were planning on essentially filling his spot.

          My realistic alternatives?

          The die is cast for this season. Let the chips fall where they may in terms of the standings.

          Sign Schultz.

          Play Draisaitl as and when his ability warrants.

          At the deadline be BUYERS as well as sellers, moving depth picks for expiring contracts with an aim to re-sign them ala Scrivens and Nikitin. As well as moving Petry, and takingany opportunity to ditch Pouliot or Purcell’s contracts.

          Look for early 20’s defencemen who still have upside and are buried in their organization. Dmitri Orlov is a good example.

          Then draft high, and start working the phones for the 2015-16 season. The Oilers still have a long hill to climb ahead of them.