3 Chicago Blackhawks Trading Partners for Andreas Athanasiou

After an impressive start to the 2022-23 season, the Chicago Blackhawks have struggled of late, losing five of their last six games. That, of course, isn’t a major surprise, as their management group made it clear this offseason that they were entering a full-fledged rebuild, trading players like Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach for future assets.

Related: 3 Potential Trade Destinations for Blackhawks’ Max Domi

General manager (GM) Kyle Davidson also signed a few notable free agents to one-year deals, presumably in hopes of trading them at or before the trade deadline for more future assets. One of those players is Andreas Athanasiou who, by all accounts, boasts a ton of skill but has yet to find a permanent home because of his inconsistent play. That said, he has been solid in the early going of his Blackhawks tenure, scoring three goals and six points through 12 outings.

At 28 years old, the Blackhawks likely didn’t expect Athanasiou to stick around long-term, as they are doing everything they can to bring in young, up-and-coming talent. Because of that, he is a very likely candidate to be moved at some point during this season, and with his speed and offensive touch, you can bet several teams will be interested in acquiring him. Here are three that seem to be logical fits.

New Jersey Devils

Entering the 2022-23 season, there weren’t a ton of expectations for the New Jersey Devils, a club that has struggled for the better part of a decade. In fact, many were pegging them to be a lottery team once again. However, through 12 games, that hasn’t been the case.

The Devils have a stellar 9-3-0 record, which has them sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division. While some believe they are due to regress, they might not, considering Jack Hughes has been just okay for his standards with 12 points through 12 games. Based on what he showed last season, he can be better, which bodes well for the Devils moving forward.

The Devils have been so dangerous early on because of their speed. They come at the opposition in waves and simply tire them out. Athanasiou would add to that and give them another offensive winger, which they could use. In order to get this conversation started, the Blackhawks would have to retain some salary while maybe getting a young defenseman like Kevin Bahl in return and a 2023 draft pick.

New York Islanders

Unlike the Devils, the New York Islanders are not only one of the league’s oldest teams but also the slowest as well. They are having some success, with a 7-5-0 record through their first twelve games, but they lack speed. To get back in the playoffs, they will need a player like Athanasiou to add some speed to the lineup.

Andreas Athanasiou Chicago Blackhawks
Andreas Athanasiou, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello received heavy criticism this offseason for failing to make any changes to his roster after missing the 2022 NHL Playoffs. It is clear that, despite last season’s struggles, he believes in his group, and based on their start, that belief might have merit. If he can add talent by making some moves before the deadline, perhaps all will be forgiven.

What the Islanders do have is enough cap space to add a player like Athanasiou. They have north of $3.7 million to work with, meaning that adding his $3 million cap hit would be no issue. If Lamoriello sees a fit, there is no reason to think he couldn’t land the Blackhawks winger.

Tampa Bay Lightning

After falling just short of what would have been their third straight Stanley Cup championship in 2021-22, you can bet that Tampa Bay Lightning management will be doing everything in their power to give their outstanding core another chance at success in 2023. Like the Devils, they have no available cap space, but if we have learned anything about GM Julien BriseBois, it’s that he is as crafty as they come when it comes to cap management.

Andreas Athanasiou LA Kings
Andreas Athanasiou during his time with the Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

We have seen many careers flourish in Tampa Bay, and there is no reason to expect anything less from Athanasiou should he head there. The team is stacked from top to bottom, meaning he would be playing alongside extremely talented players regardless of where he slots into the lineup.

The Lightning have been forced to part ways with several draft picks and prospects in recent seasons to bolster their roster heading into the playoffs. With that said, they do still have their 2024 second-round pick, as well as a number of mid and late-round selections in 2023 and 2024. Those, paired with perhaps a defenseman like Philippe Myers – to work things out financially – could be enough to make both sides happy.

Blackhawks in No Rush to Make Moves

While it is almost a foregone conclusion that the Blackhawks will trade away several expiring contracts this season, they are in no rush to do so. Holding onto these players, for now, could help create a bidding war as the deadline approaches, which would help Davidson maximize any potential return. That said, he may want to reach out to the three teams listed above, as there are plenty of reasons for them to acquire Athanasiou.