When the Blackhawks acquired Artem Anisimov in their deal that sent Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets, signing the new center to a contract extension was a high priority.
On Wednesday morning, that was complete.
The Blackhawks signed Anisimov to a five-year extension, which will kick in at the start of the 2016-17 season. The Blackhawks don’t release salary details but Darren Dreger and Chris Johnston reported the deal was worth $22.75 million (a $4.55 million cap hit per season). Anisimov is in the final year of his current deal ($3.28 million cap hit).
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“Every year they’ve battled for the Stanley Cup,” Anisimov said via conference call. “To sign for five years in Chicago is big for me.”
There was plenty of surprise to go around when the Blackhawks made their big trade on Tuesday. Anisimov didn’t know what was going on until yesterday afternoon.
“Everybody started calling me,” Anisimov said. “My agent said it was a possibility that Columbus was going to trade me. It was late yesterday when that came up.”
The Blackhawks traded Saad when they could not reach a deal. General manager Stan Bowman said the two sides were never really close. So with that, the Blackhawks wanted to get as much as they could out of a trade. In this one they got Anisimov, a center they’ve been looking to get for some time. It’s a chance for the Blackhawks to solve their second-line center situation, which has been in flux for a few years now.
Anisimov is now one of three Russians that could be on the team this coming season. They signed Artemi Panarin two a two-year deal in late April and signed Viktor Tikhonov to a one-year contract earlier today. Tikhonov has played in the NHL previously but this will be very new territory for Panarin, and Anisimov said he plans to help the young forward adjust.
“I’m going to help him around, adapt him to the NHL a little bit,” Anisimov said. “It’s going to be good for us to have some Russians on this team."
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Anisimov got his long-term deal with a team that he’s watched hoist the Cup the last few years. The Blackhawks, in turn, got the guy who they hope answers their second-line center question for the next few seasons.
“For our needs, to know we’ve got [Jonathan] Toews and Anisimov for years to come, that was a big part of this,” Bowman said on Tuesday. “He’ll be here for a long time to come.”