It happens every time someone posts a list ranking Ranger prospects; what did we think of that list and how come we don't rank Ranger prospects?. So here is our response; we glance at what they do and then move on because we have our own beliefs about how to rank Ranger prospects and disagree with the methods used to rank these prospects by others.
As for why we do not rank Ranger prospects it is because none of them are at an equal stage of development so it is (in our eyes) not a fair comparison to build a list of prospects. How can you compare someone who has been in the Ranger system for a couple of years with someone who has at best one camp under his belt?
Answer is that you can not do that fairly, just as you can not compare those who are playing in the CHL against those who are playing in the NCAAs, CIS or even in Europe. Again you are trying to rank prospects who are playing under different rules, different conditions and different stages of development.
Now we respect that others have their own way of doing business but at the same time we also think that a simple listing of prospects can be misleading. It can lead to people thinking that a prospect should be more advanced in his development, a better possible prospect than he truly is or quite honestly not a serious prospect.
We have said since day one that we do things differently than anyone else whether it is good or bad is up to you the readers. However we can say with pride that nobody else has our batting average over the last 5 years.
Since this is not about patting ourselves on the back so we will not bore you with our resume of Ranger prospects here and now. That for today is not important because what is important is who we think is the best Ranger prospect.
We do not do a Top 20 or even a Top 10 because the numbers do not have enough prospects at an equal stage of development to do such a thing. We also do not think it matters how the Ranger prospects match up against the other 29 NHL teams because Ranger needs are not the same as other teams.
Instead we will bring you our views about who in our eyes is the best Ranger prospect period.
We call him the best because we believe this is the prospect who will become the key to the Ranger's future. That prospect will come as a bit of surprise to many but please let us state our case before thinking we are wrong.
So many people want to call Alexi Cherepanov as the Ranger's best prospect and Cherepanov for all his offensive potential is not the best Ranger prospect. Sorry but overall that title has to belong to Artem Anisimov.
For starters to be the best you should be good at all areas of the game, you should be the one who will help the team and his teammates get better. Toss in that you need to be a solid 2 way player and that is why we believe in Artem Anisimov is going to be better overall than Cherepanov.
While we think the world of Bobby Sanguinetti's potential, it has been Anisimov who since the 2006 draft has offered to us the greatest possible pro potential. If not for the lack of a player transfer agreement with the Russian Hockey Federation then there is no way Anisimov falls to the Rangers in the second round.
At the 2006, Kyle Woodlief who puts out the respected "Red Line Report" told us that Anisimov was a better selection in his eyes that Sanguinetti was at the time. We agreed as we said then as we felt that Anisimov was a better overall prospect of all the Russians.
At the time Anisimov was a rail skinny 6'3 180 lb prospect that most people overlooked because Anisimov was not asked to be the star player on any team he has been a part of. Most people tend to over look Anisimov until after the fact and then it becomes a pleasant surprise.
Because of the lack of flash that people tend to not realize that Anisimov can create offense, that he has that badly needed explosive first step and has more than just one shot for his offense. This is a prospect that because so many tend to overlook do not see that Anisimov can adapt his game to whatever situation requires of him.
At 19, Anisimov was the 3rd line center for most of the season with the Hartford Wolfpack as Anisimov was trying to adjust to playing a North American style of game, a new language and a totally different culture. Go ahead and you try to do that as a teenager and see if you can.
Going 16-27-43 in his first professional season in North America is not a bad set of numbers when you think about all that Anisimov was trying to adjust to. Now toss in being a responsible +16 and ask again how old Anisimov is. When drafted people were talking about how already solid that Anisimov's defensive skills were at his young age.
Remember that the all too typical knock on Russian prospects is that they supposedly are weak on the defensive end. Someone forgot to tell Anisimov that Russians are supposed to be one way players; guess someone forgot to tell Anisimov that and we hope that nobody does.
When Anisimov was drafted the belief was that while Anisimov was a solid defender that his offense simply needed to catch up to his defensive skills. It was not "does he have any offense" but rather when his offense will show up.
Back in June as Tom Renney was talking about Ranger prospects, he talked about where they were in terms of their skill level relative to where they need to be for a Ranger future. In the case of Anisimov, Renney was more focused upon Anisimov's body not his skill set as Renney said Anisimov needed 12-14 more pounds.
It was not that Anisimov needed to add this to his game or improve that, it was about where Anisimov was in physical development. People who grade Ranger prospects are also forgetting one other really important thing which is that Anisimov is only 20.
Only 20 and if he shows up with an improved body then Blair Betts and even Brandon Dubinsky might need to look over their shoulders because Anisimov eventually will be better than both. Neither can skate like Anisimov and while Betts does not have the offense, Dubinsky lacks the size.
When project ahead we see Anisimov filling his body frame to about 215-220 range just by growing into it. A 6'3 220 center who can be both a finesse player and physical player depending on the situation.
We are projecting that in time that Anisimov is going to become a first or second line center for the Rangers. For us 30 goals will be the norm for Anisimov who we think it will take 2-3 years for his offensive numbers at the NHL level to catch up to his defensive skills.
In a way we are actually hoping that Anisimov does not make the Rangers out of training camp. We want to see him spend a little more time in Hartford getting to play 20 minutes a night and used in all situations. The more that Anisimov is used then the sharper his overall skills are.
The other reason why we say Anisimov is the best Ranger prospect is that teams have to have a first line center and a good one at that. Anisimov offers the total package from size to skill to smarts and nobody else in the system offers the entire package.
And please before people get upset and want to argue a case for either Sanguinetti or Cherepanov then please when you do tell us if either will become solid 2 way players.
A first line center is just as key as a franchise goalie or a great defenseman, we just happen to think that Artem Anisimov is the best of the Ranger prospects.
(Anisimov pic courtesy of the Blueshirt Bulletin)
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