Cage Match: Artem Anisimov vs. Alex Killorn

Dobber

2016-11-09

 

After covering underperformers last week, we turn our attention to Artem Anisimov and Alex Killorn, two very pleasant surprises for 2016-17 thus far. Although both are in their prime age-wise, it seems a little late for bona fide breakouts, which is why Cage Match is here to let know you if the ingredients exist for either player to continue to excel.

 

Career Path and Contract Status

 

Anisimov, 28, was drafted 56th overall by the Rangers in 2006, debuting in the NHL in 2009-10 after stints in Russia and the minors, including 2008-09 when he posted 81 points in 80 AHL contests. Things seemed on track when he posted 44 points in his second NHL season; however, in 2012 Anisimov was traded to Columbus and barely ended up with point per every other game scoring during three seasons there. Last summer saw Anisimov dealt yet again, this time to Chicago, where in 2015-16 he skated alongside top ten scorers Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin but still managed only 42 points, making his white hot start to 2016-17 eye-catching to say the least.

Killorn, 27, was drafted 77th in 2007, and played at Harvard from 2007-08 to 2011-12, where his points total rose each year. After AHL seasoning during the 2012-13 lockout, Kilorn landed in Tampa to stay. In his three full campaigns, Killorn has been a remarkably consistent producer, with 14-17 goals and 38-41 points each season. Yet he’s always seemed on the cusp of better numbers (what with 33 points in 47 career playoff games), and sure enough stormed out of the gate with six goals in his first seven contests this season before cooling off last week.

Anisimov is signed through 2020-21 on a deal that brings with it a $4.55M annual cap hit, which is nearly identical to Kilorn’s $4.45M cap figure on a contract that runs through 2022-23.

 

Ice Time

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

2015-16

18:05 (A.A.) – 4th

16:47 (A.K.) – 7th

2:16 (A.A.) – 5th

2:18 (A.K.) – 8th

1:21 (A.A.) – 7th

0:27 (A.K.) – 10th

2014-15

16:22 (A.A.) – 7th

16:55 (A.K.) – 6th

1:36 (A.A.) – 7th

2:02 (A.K.) – 7th

2:00 (A.A.) – 3rd

0:50 (A.K.) – 7th

2013-14

16:35 (A.A.) – 3rd

16:46 (A.K.) – 7th

2:01 (A.A.) – 7th

1:55 (A.K.) – 7th

2:05 (A.A.) – 3rd

0:09 (A.K.) – 11th

2012-13

16:24 (A.A.) – 8th

16:49 (A.K.) – 4th

1:42 (A.A.) – 8th

1:52 (A.K.) – 7th

1:33 (A.A.) – 4th

1:08 (A.K.) – 6th

 

Kilorn has been the definition of a steady eddie, what with his Total Ice Time within a ten second range for these seasons and his PP Time within a 30 second range. His SH Time fluctuated a bit more, but never was so excessive as to be a production barrier. Given that Killorn’s scoring also has been so consistent, I’m guessing his luck-based metrics for these seasons won’t hold many surprises, but we’ll verify that below.

 

Now the big question – how is Killorn’s Ice Time this season versus previous campaigns? He’s averaging 0:41 more Total Ice Time per game; however, his on ice percentage is 28.7%, or just a notch above his 27.7%-28.0% career range. And while his PP Time is up nearly a full minute and represents 45.9% of his team’s man advantage time (up from 35%-40%), that puts him fourth among Tampa forwards in PP Time per game, just 12 seconds above seventh. Plus, Tampa has received among the most PP chances in the NHL for this season thus far, so that’s certainly contributed to Killorn’s uptick in PP minutes.

 

For Anisimov, in 2015-16 he saw his highest Total and PP Ice Times, and lowest SH Time. In fact, his productive Ice Time (Total Ice Time minus SH Time) for 2015-16 was higher than his Total Ice Time for any of his Columbus seasons. It begs the question – why didn’t he tally more than 42 points, especially considering over 90% of his even strength shifts and over 85% of his PP shifts were with Kane and Panarin, versus with far lesser caliber players in Columbus when he posted 44 points in 2013-14?

 

For 2016-17 to date, Anisimov is playing as often with Kane on the PP, yet only about two-thirds of their even strength shifts together. Yet already more of Anisimov’s points (9 of 17) have occurred without Kane also on the ice than all of last season, when only 7 of his 42 total points came absent Kane being on the ice. That seemingly shows Anisimov can indeed generate offense, not just ride coattails. It’s also noteworthy that Anisimov’s 2016-17 Total Ice Time average stands at 18:34, which is barely above what it was last season. And although his PP Time is much higher at 3:19 per game, like Killorn much of that is due to PP chances. Moreover, Anisimov is on the ice for 49.7% of his team’s man advantage time, or nearly the same as his 46.5% last season. Notably, however, his SH Ice Time per game is down even further, to just 0:40, signifying that Chicago regards him more and more as an offense first player.

 

Secondary Categories

 

Season

PIMs

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2015-16

0.15 (A.A.)

0.54 (A.K.)

0.69 (A.A.)

0.94 (A.K.)

0.52 (A.A.)

0.28 (A.K.)

1.57 (A.A.)

1.90 (A.K.)

0.13 (A.A.)

0.07 (A.K.)

2014-15

0.15 (A.A.)

0.50 (A.K.)

0.63 (A.A.)

0.84 (A.K.)

0.50 (A.A.)

0.29 (A.K.)

1.69 (A.A.)

1.83 (A.K.)

0.07 (A.A.)

0.04 (A.K.)

2013-14

0.24 (A.A.)

0.77 (A.K.)

0.38 (A.A.)

0.94 (A.K.)

0.68 (A.A.)

0.38 (A.K.)

2.00 (A.A.)

2.11 (A.K.)

0.07 (A.A.)

0.09 (A.K.)

2012-13

0.34 (A.A.)

0.37 (A.K.)

0.37 (A.A.)

1.05 (A.K.)

0.68 (A.A.)

0.58 (A.K.)

1.94 (A.A.)

2.15 (A.K.)

0.03 (A.A.)

0.08 (A.K.)

 

Anisimov is a drain in SOG, PIM and PPPts, but provides a combined Hit+Block per game. Unlike Killorn he also gives poolies FOW (over seven per game last season), although that comes with the price of center only eligibility. Killorn, eligible at C and LW, is a bit better for multi-cat leagues, but has warts of his own. In particular, he’s never once averaged even one PPPt per every ten games and his SOG rate has dipped below two per game for two straight seasons, which is especially low for a winger.

 

But Killorn had fired 27 SOG through 12 games this season, for a 2.25 SOG per game rate which would mark the highest of his career – a very positive sign. Meanwhile, Anisimov sits below 2 SOG per game (24 in 13 contests). That weighs against Anisimov’s scoring binge continuing because – as previously discussed in this column – it’s extremely difficult to tally even 60 points in a season without averaging 2+ SOG per game. In fact, of the 137 instances of 60+ point scoring in a season by a forward since 2013-14, only 14 coincided with a player averaging fewer than two SOG per game in that season.

 

Luck-Based Metrics

 

Season

Personal Shooting Percentage

Team Shooting % (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)

2015-16

16.5% (A.A.)

9.1% (A.K.)

8.75% (A.A.)

8.99% (A.K.)

52.2% (A.A.)

56.3% (A.K.)

40.0% (A.A.)

40.0% (A.K.)

69.2% (A.A.)

53.5% (A.K.)

2014-15

8.0% (A.A.)

11.5% (A.K.)

7.87% (A.A.)

8.96% (A.K.)

75.0% (A.A.)

74.4% (A.K.)

66.7% (A.A.)

27.3% (A.K.)

45.1% (A.A.)

60.8% (A.K.)

2013-14

13.6% (A.A.)

9.8% (A.K.)

8.20% (A.A.)

8.84% (A.K.)

81.1% (A.A.)

56.9% (A.K.)

26.7% (A.A.)

53.8% (A.K.)

44.2% (A.A.)

60.8% (A.K.)

2012-13

16.2% (A.A.)

8.5% (A.K.)

9.20% (A.A.)

10.10% (A.K.)

93.7% (A.A.)

66.7% (A.K.)

0.0% (A.A.)

50.0% (A.K.)

45.6% (A.A.)

49.0% (A.K.)

 

As predicted above, Killorn didn’t benefit from unsustainable good luck during these four seasons, nor was he victimized by production-affecting bad luck. His IPP at 5×5 was over 70% once, but also dipped below 57% twice, where once might be considered a fluke but twice suggests he’s not someone who drives scoring. What’s more – his 5×4 IPP has been subpar over the past two seasons, at least somewhat explaining why he’s been unable to move up his team’s PP ladder. Also concerning is in two seasons his OZ% was above 60%, yet there was no corresponding improvement in production.

 

In terms of this season so far, turns out Killonr’s luck has been a mixed bag, as his PDO/SPSV is pretty normal (1006) and his team shooting percentage is just slightly elevated (10.26%). Yet on the other hand, his personal shooting percentage is 22.2%. Thus, what we’re likely looking at is a short term goal scoring binge for Killorn, but, between ice time gains and lack of unsustainable luck elsewhere, still a decent chance of him posting his first 45-50+ point season when all is said and done.

 

Anisimov’s 5×5 IPPs with Columbus represent very key data. In particular, they tell us although he was used there in a mainly defensive role (44-46% OZ%), he still managed to be a key driver of the offense that was managed to be created while he was on the ice, what with 5×5 IPPs of 75%, 81.1% and 93%. Beyond that, although he finished with a very high personal shooting percentage twice, in one case his team shooting % was below the norm of 9.00% and in the other it was just a tad above. When this Columbus data is viewed alongside Anisimov’s 52.2% IPP at 5×5 from 2015-16 (second lowest among all 125 NHL forwards who skated 1000+ minutes at 5×5 last season), it shows Anisimov’s fast start might have at least partial legs.

 

After all, suppose Anisimov’s IPP at 5×5 for last season was in the middle of the pack instead, namely 71.1%, (i.e., the 62nd best 5×5 IPP among 1000+ minute forwards). In that case, it would’ve meant an extra eight points, bringing him to 50 in 77 games, which translates to a 53 point full season pace. The reason I said partial legs is due to his 2016-17 luck metrics, where, other than a similar OZ% and a 5×5 IPP of only 70%, the rest are exceptionally high (1127 PDO/SPSV, 33.3% Personal Shooting %, 14.71% team shooting%).

 

Who Wins?

 

The victory goes to Anisimov. He’ll come back down to earth before long; however, this is a former point-per-game AHL player who “deserved” 50-55 points last season and drove offense in Columbus despite being deployed in a largely defensive role. And despite some very, very high luck metrics for 2016-17 thus far, his OZ% and 5×5 IPP are sustainable. All things considered, he has a reasonable shot at 60+ points given what he’s already banked.

 

Meanwhile, an uptick in points for Killorn passes the sniff test. Yes, he’s shooting at an unsustainbly high rate; however, his Ice Time is indeed up and he’s not been so unsustainably lucky across the board as to rule out a shot at a career best (which, admittedly, would only require 42 points), and an outside chance at 50+ points.

 

In one year leagues, you owe it to yourself to try and leverage either player to get, in return, a proven “next level” asset. For Killorn that would mean a surefire 50+ point player, while for Anisimov it would be a proven 65 point forward. After all, any player can and should be traded if it means upgrading your team on paper.

 

I also think we’ve officially entered territory to consider trading Anisimov in keepers. If you own him you likely didn’t pay much and potentially could turn him around for a key asset from folks who think he’s now poised to be a perennial 70+ point player, which we can see would be definitely a stretch. But don’t be surprised if fellow GMs turn you down – as hot as Anisimov is, some poolies simply might not trust in him enough to pay through the nose. In that case, you simply keep him and get a nice return on the low cost you expended to land him in the first place.

 

 

 

 

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency PHI Players
27.4% KEVIN HAYES TRAVIS KONECNY SCOTT LAUGHTON
21.1% NICOLAS AUBE-KUBEL DEREK GRANT JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK
18.6% SEAN COUTURIER JOEL FARABEE CLAUDE GIROUX

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