FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

For those New York Rangers/Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale fans worrying about center Artem Anisimov not filing for arbitration on the deadline Tuesday, stop fretting.

Anisimov, who played two seasons with the Wolf Pack before improving immensely the last two years on Broadway, is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights off his entry-level deal.

Anisimov’s former Wolf Pack teammates and 2010-11 linemates Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan (when not injured) and defenseman Michael Sauer, along with center Brian Boyle filed for arbitration by the 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday. The filings were especially significant because it eliminated the chance of another team giving an offer sheet to any of the players and a long contract hassle extending into the start of training camp Sept. 15.

It also triggered a second buyout round from July 20 to Aug. 6 in which the Rangers could end the $3.8 million contract of wing Wojtek Wolski, acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Michal Roszival on Jan. 10.

Despite the filings, it’s unlikely the Rangers won’t re-sign the four key players unless an arbitrator’s decision is so out of line that president and general manager Glen Sather chooses to walk away. But arbitrators usually split the difference between the opposing parties, so look for likely future Rangers captain Callahan, Dubinsky, Boyle and Sauer to be at the Rangers training facility in Greenburg, N.Y., in mid-September. Heck, Boyle was there last week working out with wing Mats Zuccarello under the watchful eye of Rangers skating guru Barb Underwood after the completion of daily prospects camp workouts and scrimmages.

Callahan and Dubinsky are expected to receive $3.7 million to $4.4 million per season, with Sauer will be in line for $1.5 million and $2 million after being the biggest surprise on the Rangers last season. Boyle could be a bit tougher after his 21 goals in 82 games last season were nine more than he had in his first 107 NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings, who drafted him in the first round (26th overall) in 2003. So the foursome could add approximately $12 million to the Rangers’ salary cap, with another $1.25 million for Anisimov.

Toss in the previous signings of Zuccarello, wing Sean Avery and defenseman Tim Erixon, a 2009 first-round pick (23rd overall) acquired from the Calgary Flames for two second-round picks and forward Roman Horak on June 1, and the Rangers could have about $3 million in cap space under the new $64.3 million limit to pursue a veteran defenseman or make another move. Steve Eminger is the leading candidate to be the veteran defenseman after a solid first season with the Rangers in 2010-11 and saying he would like to return. The cap space would increase by $3.3 million if the Rangers buy out the final year of Wolski’s contract. A buyout would result in a cap charge of $467,000 compared to $3.8 million if he remains on Broadway.

KERBASHIAN HAPPY IN PROSPECTS CAMP

Speedy wing Kale Kerbashian was one of 36 players at the Rangers’ training center last week and excited to have been signed to an AHL contract late last season and invited him to the prospects camp, the prospects tournament Sept. 10-14 in Travers City, Mich., and the Rangers camp.

“It was a good experience at the prospects camp, and all the Whale coaches were there,” Kerbashian said. “It’s good to see them in the summer and get a chance to chat and get a few pointers for the rest of the summer.”

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Kerbashian said the success he had with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League last season went a long way to landing his AHL deal. He had 37 goals and 51 assists in 68 games, and his 88 points tied for 10th in the OHL. In 2009-10, he led Sarnia in goals (26), assists (30) and points (56) and also had two goals and an assist in three games with Wheeling of the ECHL.

After signing an AHL contract and amateur tryout deal on March 21, Kerbashian was scoreless while getting limited ice time in four games with the Whale but gained invaluable experience.

“At the end of the year I came into a situation where they were trying to make the playoffs,” Kerbashian said. “It was a tough situation, but I took what I could from it. There’s a big change in attitude in that when you’re a pro you have to act like a pro. There were numerous guys like (Wade) Redden who were great to watch, so I took what I could learn from them, just the way they acted and carried themselves.

“Now I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Hartford is a great organization with a great coaching staff that I got to know fairly well and a little better during the prospects camp, so I’m excited to get going next year.” … This reporter is excited that the Whale re-signed forward Kelsey Tessier on Wednesday. Tessier was voted the Whale’s Unsung Hero by the media after leading the team’s first-year players in assists (18) and finished second in goals (10) and points (28). He also was a key contributor on the penalty kill while demonstrating endless energy and grit for a guy who is 5 feet 9, 177 pounds. Tessier was a fourth-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2008 and had a stellar career with the Quebec Remparts and Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Welcome back, Kelsey.

TORCHETTI NAMED AEROS COACH

The Minnesota Wild named John Torchetti the new head coach of the Houston Aeros, the team’s AHL affiliate. Torchetti replaces Mike Yeo, who was promoted to coach of the Wild after leading theAeros to the Calder Cup finals, where they lost in six games to the Binghamton Senators. Torchetti most recently was the associate coach of the former Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets) after being named to the position last July. The 46-year-old Boston native joined the Aeros with 27 years of pro experience as a player, coach and manager. He has nine years of coaching experience in the NHL, including stops in Tampa Bay (1999-2001), Florida (2002-04), Los Angeles (2005-06), Chicago (2007-10) and Atlanta (2010-11). … The New York Islanders, parent club of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, have agreed to terms with center Trevor Frischmon on a one-year, two-way contract. Frischmon, 29, joins the Islanders organization after spending the previous five seasons as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was a member of the Springfield Falcons last season and had a career year with four goals and 25 assists in 80 games. … The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, signed free agent center Trevor Smith to a one-year, two-way contract. Smith had 20 goals and 23 assists in 68 games with the Syracuse Crunch and Falcons. He has 92 goals and 100 assists in 282 AHL games with the Crunch, Falcons and Sound Tigers. He also has one goal in seven NHL games with the Islanders, who signed him as a free agent on April 7, 2007 after he played two seasons at the University of New Hampshire. … The Anaheim Ducks signed former Wolf Pack defenseman Bryan Rodney to a one-year contract.

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