Lehigh Valley Phantoms Sign Artem Anisimov to AHL Deal

After starting the season on a PTO with the Flyers, an broken foot suffered during a preseason game hurt Artem Anisimov’s chances of returning to the NHL. He remained on a PTO as he rehabbed from injury. Once he was ready to return, he was later signed to a PTO by the Phantoms in order to play.

And after appearing in six games for Lehigh Valley, the team has announced that they have signed him to an AHL contract for the rest of the season. This does not mean he can join the Flyers at any time. This simply gives him the financial security to play in the AHL for the time being.

Philadelphia almost certainly would have signed Anisimov after he returned from injury if they could. Unfortunately for the Flyers, they are at the 50 contract limit and couldn’t bring on another player without finding a way to shed a different contract. That may have been part of the reason Kieffer Bellows was placed on waivers.

It’s fair to say that it likely had more to do with players like Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny returning from injury. Bellows hadn’t impressed during his limited time and there wasn’t a reason to keep him in the NHL. But it feels like the Flyers would not have been upset if Bellows ended up getting claimed. That didn’t happen and the team simply sent him to the AHL. It didn’t solve their problem, however.

Having the Phantoms sign him was the next best thing. All the team would have to do now is just convert his minor league deal into an NHL one. It wouldn’t be the first time the Flyers have done that with a player. If they can find a way to open up a contract spot, it feels almost like a guarantee that Anisimov will be the player they choose to use the spot on.

Anisimov last played in the NHL during the 2020-21 season where he appeared in just 19 games for the Ottawa Senators. He struggled to stay healthy and was placed on waivers in March of that season, but went unclaimed and remained with the team. A free agent that next summer, Anisimov accepted a PTO from the Colorado Avalanche but would be released before the season began.

Returning to his native Russia, he spent last season with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He posted eight goals and 19 points in 27 games. But Anisimov wanted to give it another try at the NHL level after having previously appeared in 771 career games over 13 years.

“I just want to come back to NHL because every best player play here and I want to compete against the best players in the league.” Anisimov said at the beginning of training camp.

For now, Anisimov will continue on with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He currently has five goals and eight points in seven games. Not bad for someone who hasn’t appeared in the AHL since the 2008-09 season. If the Flyers find a way to shed a contract, he will return to the NHL. If not, he can be a good veteran presence for a very young Phantoms team who has been playing well as of late.