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.

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.

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.

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.


  • 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!!!

  • Sorensenator

    MacT is a favourite of mine and I like Pouliot and Percell but it raises serious concerns when your greatest hole on your team is left gaping and you add more players to the part of your team that is the strongest; that being wingers.

    I hope he has a few tricks left up his sleeve.

    P.S. I didn’t mean to make this post sound dirty, lol

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Teams are of the mindset now you can’t have enough centers on your roster. To the point where, if everyone’s healthy they just slide over to the wing if they have to. Can’t see the Jackets giving him up when most competitive teams prefer to have 5 even 6 centers in their lineup on a nightly basis.

    That being said, the Oilers do have a couple players moving on pretty soon in Petry and Perron. Artem would be a pretty good return for one of those.

  • ubermiguel

    Artem Anisimov!!! The guy would look great next to yakupov… Id give a second round pick and Musil+ for him.. Being 26 he would transition nicely into third line duties when leon moves up… IF they bring him in they have a solid looking team in paper.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

        • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.