A month ago New York Rangers prospect Artem Anisimov graciously agreed to answer questions from readers of this little corner of the Internet, and after almost a week of collecting and translating your queries into Russian, I sent the top twenty five off for his replies. Circumstances — most notably a surprise trip to the AHL All-Star Game and his NHL debut on Adam Graves Night — conspired to delay his responses until this weekend. So without further ado, here you go: everything you ever wanted to know the Rangers’ top prospect (and weren’t afraid to ask!)
Artem, you are my favorite hockey player and I can’t wait to see you play on Broadway. My question is, do you think you have fully adjusted to the North American style of hockey or are you still adjusting some?
This season itâ€™s already much easier for me to play American hockey, but every day I learn something new, and every day I get more and more used to the local style of play. Iâ€™ve learned to play physical hockey here and how to hit the right way.
After playing in North America last year, has the game â€œslowed downâ€ for you in the sense that your anticipation level is greater and makes it easier for you to make plays? Thanks and good luck the rest of the season. (Phillip)
I have adjusted to the level of play in the AHL and I have already played one game for the Rangers. In the NHL are very high speeds, itâ€™s an entirely new, higher level, and now I need to work towards that.
Hi Artem. What do you think are your strengths, and what areas of your game do you think you need to work on most? Thanks! (John)
It is difficult for me to pick out my strengths. There is always something to work on; besides, I want to be an all-around player, and so itâ€™s necessary to work on every aspect of the game.
Are there any aspects of your game that you believe make you a unique player? More directly, what aspect of your game are you the most proud of? Congratulations on all your success to date! (Amos)
Since childhood Iâ€™ve liked playing defense and donâ€™t like to let in goals.
The coaches of the Rangers believe that you needed to put on more muscle during this season to be ready for the NHL. Have you been able to reach this goal? If not, how far away are you from reaching it? (Inferno)
I continue to work at it in the weight room. There is a physical training coach in Hartford, he gives me different exercises and helps me achieve the desired results.
Thank you for doing this! Can you describe your off season workout program? What specific areas did you target and do you go home to Russia to train or stay in Connecticut/New York? (Mike A.)
I go back to Russia in the summer. The Rangers give me a special training program, I work on it in the weight room. Last summer I worked a lot, including on the ice, perfecting my skills.
Before the season, did you set any personal goals for yourself? If so, what were they?
I have a single goal â€“ to play in the NHL, and Iâ€™m proceeding towards it.
Are there any specific things to which you can attribute your success this season – perhaps an intense offseason training program, or maybe just feeling more and more comfortable with the North American style of play? (Amos)
It’s become easier for me to play in the AHL — I play with good linemates, we have an excellent line and Iâ€™m comfortable, plus I worked a lot this summer on my skills.
Why did you choose center as your position and who were your favorite players growing up? (Mike A.)
I didnâ€™t choose it, in childhood I was put in the center position by my first coach, Leonid Gladchenko. And Iâ€™ve played my whole hockey career at center.
When was growing up in Russia they showed few NHL games, but I watched short round-ups and I very much liked the way Joe Sakic plays.
Hi Artem. If you weren’t a hockey player, what would you be? (Eli)
Most likely, Iâ€™d be studying in the history department at university now, because I really like history and archeology. Iâ€™ve always been interested in ancient civilizations; Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece are interesting to me.
Who are your favorite NHL players to watch and are there any in particular who you try to emulate? (Elliot)
I donâ€™t copy anyone, but my favorite players in the NHL, of course, are Russian â€“ Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk. Each of them has their own strengths and different roles on the team and with each there is something to learn.
Whatâ€™s it like being a hockey player in America compared to Russia? (Blaze)
In America there are a lot of games and few practices, while in Russia when I left it was the other way around.
What do you enjoy most about playing hockey?
I love everything about hockey. I especially like to play in front of packed stands.
Congratulations on a successful season so far. Do you watch Rangers games with your teammates? What forward line would you picture yourself on â€“ with what players on the current Rangers roster. Good luck the rest of the season. I hope to see you soon with the big club. (Ed)
I try to watch every Rangers game, I often watch the games with [Hartford Wolf Pack teammate] Vladimir Denisov. The main thing is that I am on the Rangers roster, where Iâ€™m put â€“ thatâ€™s a question that will be decided by the coach.
Hey Artem! How does it feel to possibly be on an all Russian line with Zherdev and Grachev next year, or in the future? Thanks. (John T.)
It feels positive. If that happens, weâ€™ll show the Russian style of game and beautiful passing.
First, thank you for your time Artem. My question is: Are you excited about the opportunity to possibly play with your fellow countryman Nik Zherdev, and are you anxious to play in the NHL? I can’t wait to see you in a New York Rangers jersey, inside Madison Square Garden! (John)
Yes, I would be very happy to play with them. I very badly want to play in the NHL, itâ€™s been my dream since childhood.
Hello Artem, how do you feel about your future role as a center on the Rangers when Gomez, Drury, Dubinsky, and Betts seem to have the spots secured? Would you be open to playing the wing on the big club? (Bryan)
No, I havenâ€™t considered it, because Iâ€™ve played my whole hockey career at center. I will work; itâ€™s necessary to play well, stably and reliably.
Hi Artem. Congratulations on your great season. Has anyone indicated what kind of timeline you have to get to the Rangers and what feedback have you had on your progress? Thanks! (Chris)
Iâ€™ve had no feedback from management. My contract is for three years, by that time I will fight my way on to the Rangers roster.
Are you disappointed that you have not been called up to the Rangers yet despite your strong play in the AHL this season? Do you think you are ready for the NHL? (Rajeev)
Iâ€™ve been called up one time, and have already played in a game against Atlanta. There are still aspects I must work on, since the speeds in the NHL are much higher than in the AHL.
In the past couple of years, Euro prospects like Ivan Baranka and Jarkko Immonen have chosen to return to Europe after spending 2-3 years in the AHL and not making it to the NHL. Have you set a deadline for reaching the NHL before youâ€™ll consider returning to Russia?
For the time being I have a three year contract with the Rangers; at the expiration of those three years, Iâ€™ll think about what to do.
What are some of your favorite things about living in America? What are some of the least favorite?
I like American roads very much. And no negative traits come to mind.
Did you watch the Russian junior team play against Canada and what were your thoughts on the team? Why does Russia seem to not pick the best players for the national teams (for instance, Mayorov this year)? Thanks, continued success this season, Artem and I hope to see you in a Ranger uniform soon. (Rajeev)
No, I did not watch this game, because I had a game, so therefore I can’t say anything about [it]. The coaching staff took those players whom they thought necessary, and those who in their opinion could help the team.
You were the youngest player in the AHL last year. This year it seems like more, even younger Russians came over to the AHL than ever before. Do you think your success influenced them? What advice would you give to a young Russian player who is thinking about coming to North America, but may be apprehensive about playing in the AHL?
I donâ€™t think that this is to my merit. The issue is that in Russia young players donâ€™t get enough in-game practice and that is what they leave for overseas for. Thanks to the constant games they can develop and gain experience, and perhaps some of them can realize their dream and make their way to the NHL.
I canâ€™t give advice yet, because Iâ€™m still too young myself.
How did you feel about the tragic passing of Alexei Cherepanov? As future teammates, had you kept in touch with one another? Hope to see you in Ranger blue next season! (Pastor of Muppets)
No, we didnâ€™t keep in touch. Iâ€™m very sorry that this happened. Alexei was an excellent player, he had a good future — it is a huge loss for the hockey world. I give my condolences to all who were close to him, and I am sorry that this happened.
Hi Artem. Who are your closest friends on the Wolf Pack? (Krista)
Most of all I hang out with Vladimir Denisov. But I can always talk with any of the players on our team, too, I have a good relationship with all of them.
Is there any special reason you wear #42? (Krista)
Yes, I was born on May 24th, if you flip the numbers back to front itâ€™s 42.
Whoâ€™s better? Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin?
They’re all excellent hockey players, but they play different [styles of] hockey and each has his own strengths.
What do you think of American food? Have you learned to cook for yourself yet? (Alex)
American food is very high in calories. Yes, I cook for myself — I try to cook Russian food. In addition, there is a Russian shop in Hartford, and I go there, buy groceries and cook Russian soups and other Russian dishes for myself.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time, away from the rink? (Eli)
In my free time I surf the Internet, watch films, play Sony Playstation, go for walks, go shopping, and of course, sleep and relax. Games in North America are very frequent, so itâ€™s important to rest in order to be energized for the next game.
I hope youâ€™ll accept a question from a Devils fan! I know from this site that you are friends and former teammates with Alexander Vasyunov. What can you tell us about him? What kind of game does he play? Whoâ€™s better, you or him? ;) (DevilGirl)
I canâ€™t say who is better, him or I, because we play different positions: Iâ€™m a center and heâ€™s a wing, and therefore we have different objectives. I played with him a lot on the same team and on the same line, everything turned out well for us. Alexander is very fast, has a good shot, and [is good] one-on-one.
Special thanks to Ksenia Koshonina for her help coordinating this “interview”, to Vlad for his continued translation assistance and, of course, to Artem for agreeing to do it in the first place.
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