The 2013 campaign is going to be a big season for the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’ll head into the first full season with the new front office regime in charge, and will be coming off of a season in which they hung around in the playoff race until the last day of the regular season.
It’s a big year due to that latter fact more than anything else. They’ll have to prove that they were for real and not just the beneficiaries of a shortened season. They have the makings of a solid offensive core, along with the goaltending to make some noise once again next season.
One player that is a key to that offensive group is Artem Anisimov. Though he had his injury issues throughout the shortened 2013 season, his first with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he proved that he’s a capable offensive players, and one of the keys for this club moving forward.
The Russian forward actually put up points at the best rate of his career after coming to Columbus in the Rick Nash trade. He ended the year with 11 goals, just seven shy of his career high in only 35 games. He had 18 points on the season overall, though only one of those points came with the man advantage.
With a completely healthy season under his belt, we could see a breakout year from Anisimov next year. Will that come with the Blue Jackets? After all, he’s a restricted free agent this summer.
It’s a virtual certainty that Anisimov will be back next season. Few teams are going to look at him and try and throw an offer sheet down, if any. He’ll probably re-up on a two or three year deal just to prove that he’s healthy and see if he’s part of the long-term solution in Columbus.
But that contract, however short or small in numbers it may be, will be a priority for the Jackets. Getting his contract out of the way will allow Columbus to focus on the other improvements they need to make in order to reach the playoffs next year.