The Los Angeles Kings officially put pen to paper with restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou and inked a one-year contract extension with the speedy forward. The deal carries a cap hit of $2.7 million. Athanasiou initially arrived in LA at the onset of the 2020-21 season, signing with the team on Dec. 28, 2020, just weeks before the season commenced on Jan. 13. In his first season with the Kings, he impressed LA fans with his combination of speed, size and offensive talent.
Athanasiou’s Inaugural Season as a King
In Athanasiou’s inaugural season with the LA Kings, he played well and became a pivotal cog on LA’s roster. He thrived when skating at even strength, cementing himself as one of the Kings’ top even-strength contributors. He was tied for first on the team in even-strength goals (10) with Anze Kopitar, and his 22 even-strength points were tied with Alex Iafallo for second on the team behind Kopitar. Among the Kings, he ranked second in even-strength points per 60 (ESP/60) behind Arthur Kaliyev, who only skated in one game. Overall, Athanasiou scored ESP/60 at a much higher clip than his full-time teammates. Ranking third through fifth on the team in this regard were Kopitar, Jeff Carter (who was a frequent member of Athanasiou’s line) and Dustin Brown.
In addition to Athanasiou’s 22 even-strength points, he added one shorthanded assist, bringing his overall total to 10 goals and 23 points in 47 games played. His 10 goals were tied with Gabriel Vilardi and Trevor Moore (who recently signed an extension with LA) for fifth on the team, while his 23 points were tied with the same two players for sixth on the team.
Much of Athanasiou’s production came early on during 2020-21. Upon arriving in LA, he began skating on the team’s second line with Jeff Carter. Together, the duo possessed tons of speed and worked effectively during the early portions of the season. Through his first 17 games with LA, Athanasiou scored six goals and tallied five assists for a total of 11 points, equivalent to 0.65 points per game (P/GP). Furthermore, Carter’s offensive game saw a resurgence during the first few games of the season. Athanasiou’s offensive game dropped off following his initial success with the Kings, as he scored four goals and added eight assists during his final 30 games of the season, equal to a 0.40 P/GP average.
All three of Athanasiou’s biggest values are highlighted in the above clip. First, it underscores that he possess tons of speed, as he streaks through the neutral zone and becomes a net-front presence in seconds. Secondly, it showcases how he utilizes his 6-foot-2 frame to power past opposing teams. Lastly, it highlights the former 30-goal scorer’s innate talent.
Although this second clip is from when Athanasiou played for Detroit, it perfectly encompasses the aforementioned traits that he possesses. This clip demonstrates how he can shift from not moving at all to being right in front of the net and scoring a goal. It takes him just six seconds after a face-off at centre ice to blaze his way past Erik Karlsson to score an overtime winner. Don’t forget this is from when Karlsson played in Ottawa – before being ravaged by injuries. At that time, he was one of the fastest defenders in the league.
Athanasiou Deal Is a Win-Win
Athanasiou’s new contract is a win-win deal as he and the team both benefit from it. On one hand, he gets a raise of $1.5 million compared to his previous contract. Additionally, he is only locked down for one year, thus he could potentially earn himself a more lucrative deal next offseason. However, as the Kings shift from rebuilding to competing, he will be an invaluable middle-six piece for the team next year. Further, the contract’s term of just one year will allow LA to easily part ways from him if they feel one of the prospects from their extremely deep pipeline deserves a shot in the big league, or if their position at the trade deadline requires them to be sellers.
Statistics per QuantHockey
I am a lifelong hockey fan who will be covering the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks here at The Hockey Writers. Before joining The Hockey Writers I spent two years blogging about hockey.
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