The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t used to early off-seasons, but it might be what’s best for center Artem Anisimov and his chance to help the club get back into Stanley Cup contention in 2016-17.
The Blackhawks announced that Anisimov, 27, has undergone surgery to repair a right wrist injury, and the Russian pivot won’t be able to return to action for at least six weeks, but could miss up to two months. The off-season will provide him the time to recover and rehab the injury, but it’s cost Anisimov his chance to suit up for Russia at the World Championship, which opens May 6.
There’s no indication of exactly when Anisimov suffered the injury or what the exact nature of the ailment was, but he was forced to miss the final two games of the regular season following a hit from behind in a late-season tilt against the Arizona Coyotes. On the hit, Coyotes center Antoine Vermette shoved Anisimov into the boards from behind, which led to Anisimov sticking his arms out to block his fall. He didn’t appear to be favoring his wrist when leaving the ice, however. He did not return to that game, and didn’t play again until Game 1 of the post-season.
In an interview with SovSport.ru, Blackhawks teammate Artemi Panarin said it’s an injury that Anisimov has been dealing with for years and added that Anisimov had to take painkillers to fight through the ailment. Anisimov played well, scoring 20 goals and 42 points, but there may have been signs of the injury given how Anisimov’s production slipped in the back half of the season.
Anisimov scored just two goals and 10 points in 22 games over the final two months of the regular season, which works out to .45 points per games. Prior to that, Anisimov had registered 18 goals and 32 points in 55 games, good for .58 points per game. His scoring rate slowing could be related to a number of things, but there’s little doubt Anisimov was at the very least encouraged by the Blackhawks to undergo the surgery before his five-year, $22.75-million contract kicks in this off-season.
The biggest positive for Anisimov is that the recovery shouldn’t hold him out of action longer than two months, meaning a return in time for the World Cup of Hockey is more than reasonable. Anisimov was named to Russia’s preliminary 16-player roster for the September tournament, and should be available for the national team’s training camp. Russia will play their first exhibition game Sept. 8 against the Czech Republic.