Hartford Wolf Pack bring back familiar Rangers face in Artem Anisimov

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Hartford Wolf Pack will begin the 2024 calendar year with more changes to their lineup, as rookie star Brennan Othmann has been called up to the New York Rangers. However, prior to that move, the team signed 35 year-old Artem Anisimov on Tuesday to a professional tryout (PTO).

Originally taken by the Rangers in the second-round of the 2006 draft, Anisimov scored 46 goals and 62 assists for 108 points in 244 games between 2008 through 2012. He was eventually traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012 as part of a package to acquire Rick Nash.

Related: Rick Nash trade tree

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Artem Anisimov PTO

hartford wolf pack
Wolf Pack (Photo: Kelly Shea/Wolf Pack)

Artem Anisimov returns to Hartford

Rangers fans remember “Arty the one man party” in his time with the organization between 2007 – 2012. The center joined the Wolf Pack through a PTO, announced by club on January 2nd.

The veteran is known for his offensive prowess, especially in the AHL. Anisimov spent last season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and did not miss a beat. In 55 games, the veteran recorded 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points. Considering his age, the center continues to provide value and will help with Hartford’s depth.

While this was addressed during the off-season, the Wolf Pack is lacking without Riley Nash (injury) and Jonny Brodzinski (call up). In addition, Hartford’s offensive game slowed down in recent weeks, which contributed to their recent 5-game losing streak.

As a center, Anisimov is anticipated to replace Jonny Brodzinski’s void for production. The Rangers are being proactive, which is great to see as they have eyes and ears on Hartford. This much needed move will help strengthen Hartford, especially with key cogs out on multiple fronts, including Brennan Othmann’s call up on Wednesday.

Riley Nash’s injury deals blow to Pack

Nash, 34, has been pivotal to Hartford’s lineup, especially after call-ups to the Rangers. He was reliable for production, especially after the Wolf Pack lost Brodzinski to the big club, Nash produced points on a near nightly basis. In 23 games played, Nash notched 9 goals and 13 assists for 22 points. He was a key factor on the power play as well.

Furthermore, Nash brings leadership to the locker room and has helped guide prospects in various situations. Unfortunately, Nash suffered a lower body injury at the end of Hartford’s game against Bridgeport on December 22nd. During a draw, there was a battle and Nash was bumped in a pile of players coming away hurting.

As a result, Hartford will lose Nash for a bit of time as he is listed as week-to-week. The already depleted forward group will have to find new ways to produce offense and will look to Anisimov to help in that department.

Wolf Pack look to start 2024 strong

A season high 5-game losing streak (0-3-2) was snapped approaching the second half of the 2023-24 journey. Hartford collected two out of four points to close out December and will begin 2024 on a 4 game road-trip. Divisional battles against Bridgeport, Hershey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Lehigh Valley are all on tap with the stakes high for Hartford as the club lost their cushion in the competitive Atlantic Division.

Through 28 games, the Rangers AHL affiliate is 16-7-5 for 37 points. That ranks the Blueshirts of Tomorrow 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 4th in the Eastern Conference, and 7th in the American Hockey League.

Brett Berard excellent rookie campaign

In his first season in the professional ranks, Rangers prospect Brett Berard continues his growth. Offensively, the youngster has shown he can put the puck on net continually and generate strong opportunities for himself and his linemates. Through 28 games, Berard has picked up 8 goals and 7 assists for 15 points.

Jake Leschyshyn Returns From Lengthy Injury

The 24-year old center returned to action on December 27th against Springfield after being held out of the lineup from an injury since November 10th. Despite missing a month, Leschyshyn found his grove early on and produced one assist in his second game back.

Prior to his injury, the forward had a slow start to the season. This resulted in Leschyshyn getting scratched for a couple of games in a very competitive lineup. Now, the center will have an opportunity to jumpstart his season and get playing time from Hartford’s depleted roster.

Leschyshyn was a reliable contributor last season and the Pack need his contributions now more than ever. Keep an eye him, as he could be a potential key cog as Hartford chugs along the second half of the season.

Depth Matters: Cristiano DiGiacinto Impressive In Stint

A late free agency signing over the summer, 27-year old forward Cristiano DiGiacinto was given an opportunity to return to Hartford on two occasions in a month. Through three games, DiGiacinto impressed Hartford’s coaching staff and management.

A hard nosed player, the experienced forward plays with an edge, grit, and is not afraid to drop the gloves. This is DiGiacinto’s third season with Hartford after playing well during the preseason in 2021.

DiGiacinto secured Hartford’s game winning goal on Saturday to snap the 5-game losing streak. The forward was at the right spot at the right time, in front of Bridgeport’s goaltender, screening him and deflecting the puck was in. He’s just another example of the solid depth in the organization, as they’ve had the ability to call up players from the ECHL to make an impact.

Hartford Wolf Pack Schedule

Thursday, January 4th vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, Total Mortgage Arena

  • This is the 4th of 10 meetings in the season series. Hartford is 2-1 against the Islanders thus far. The 5th meeting will on January 20th in Bridgeport.
  • Entering the week, the Islanders are 9-18-2 for 20 points. That ranks the group 8th in the Atlantic Division, 15th in the Eastern Conference, and 32nd in the league. The Islanders are 3-6-1 in their last 10 outings.
  • Islanders prospect Ruslan Iskhakov leads the club in points with 24. Through 29 games, Iskhakov recorded 10 goals and 14 assists. Defenseman Dennis Cholowski is second in points with 18. Through 29 games, Cholowksi recorded 4 goals and 14 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, January 6th vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 7pm, Giant Center

  • This is the 1st of 4 meetings in the season series. Last season, Hartford dropped the regular season series with a record of 2-3-0-1. In addition, the Wolf Pack were swept by the Bears in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs, 3-0. Hershey won the Calder Cup in 2023.
  • Entering the week, Hershey is 1st in the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, and league. The Bears are off to a strong start, compiling a record of 27-6. The Bears are on a 8 game winning streak and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. Hershey has 54 points. In the division, the Bears have a 16 point gap from 1st to 2nd.
  • Veteran Mike Sgarbossa leads the Bears in points with 32. Through 32 games, Sgarbossa recorded 6 goals and 26 assists. He is ranked 4th in the AHL for production. Capitals prospect Ethen Frank is second for points on the roster with 27. Through 33 games, Frank has 14 goals and 13 assists. He is ranked 16th in the AHL for production.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Sunday, January 7th vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) at 3:05pm, Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

  • This is the of 3rd of 6 meetings in the season series. Hartford is 1-1 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton thus far. The 4th meeting will be on January 24th.
  • Entering the week, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 16-12-3 for 35 points. That ranks the group 5th in the Atlantic Division and 7th in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
  • Forward Rem Pitlick leads the Penguins in points with 23. Through 31 games, Pitlick secured 8 goals and 15 assists. Ty Smith is second for points with 22. Through 27 games, the defenseman recorded 4 goals and 18 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Games Down The Road…

Friday, January 12th vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia) at 7:05pm, PPL Center

Saturday, January 13th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7:30pm, XL Center

Ricky Milliner is a Hartford Wolf Pack season ticket holder. While growing up, he discovered hockey by attending a... More about Ricky Milliner