The Detroit Red Wings have had a surprisingly good off season thus far and it sounds like there may be one more relatively exciting piece of business left on Detroit Red Wings' general manager Ken Holland's to do list.
On Monday in an interesting piece for the Detroit Free Press, Red Wings insider Helen St. James raised some eyebrows when she hinted that Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou could be a potential trading chip for Holland. According to St. James there is going to be a log jam at the forward position on Detroit's roster as a result of their good fortune at the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft, and that Anthanasiou is the odd man out in a locker room that includes untouchables like Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Athiony Mantha
Of the young NHL forwards who have trade value, Larkin, Mantha and Bertuzzi are not going to be moved. Athanasiou, though, could be on the block...
Although St. James is the first to touch on the possibility of a trade involving Athanasiou the move would make sense on a number of different levels when you look at it a little closer. The Red Wings were likely expecting to select some young defensemen at the draft but with extremely talented winger Filip Zadina practically dropping into their lap they instead went with a forward. If Zadina ends up commanding ice time at the NHL level this season Athansiou suddenly becomes an expendable, but valuable, treading chip for the Red Wings.
Additionally the Red Wings also have 2015 first round pick Evgeny Svechnikov waiting in the background and coming off a 14 game performance with the Red Wings during the 2017 - 2018 NHL regular season. Svechnikov put up two goals and two assists over that stretch and if this is a season that he gets a more serious look at the NHL level he could also potentially fill in the vacancy a departing Athanasiou would leave in the line up.
If Ken Holland is indeed considering a trading involving Athanasiou then the contract to which he signed the young forward this summer looks like an even better deal now in hindsight. Athanasiou's new deal will pay him an average annual value of $3,000,000 over the next two seasons, something that would give the team acquiring him in a trade a ton of control. On top of the two year term Athanasiou will also be a restricted free agent at the end of this contract so his team will retain his rights and will have the chance to match any potential offer he receives as a free agent. There's also the fact that he was paid a $250,000 signing bonus here to consider here, although it will be negligible for most teams, due to the fact that the deal becomes even more appealing to budget teams look to save costs wherever they can.
As for a potential return, St. James believes that Holland should seek at the very least a second round pick, or a perhaps a young prospect. Holland was initially looking for defensemen at the draft so if he could trade Athanasiou, despite just signing him, for some help on the blue line that would be huge for the Red Wings.
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