Edmonton Oilers general Ken Holland has spent a lot of time calling his former office in Detroit. After acquiring defenseman Mike Green from the Red Wings this morning, he has struck another deal to bring in speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou.
Oilers Add Speed Up Front
Darren Dreger of TSN was the first to report that the Oilers have given up a pair of second-round draft picks to bring in Athanasiou. The official word came down a few minutes later as the Oilers receive Athanasiou and left-wing Ryan Kuffner in exchange for their second-round picks in 2020 and 2021 along with veteran center Sam Gagne. Athanasiou will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and is arbitration-eligible.
Athanasiou has been an interesting player ever since he was drafted by Holland and the Red Wings in the fourth-round (110th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The one thing that has made scouts drool ever since he was playing in the Ontario Hockey League has been his superior speed.
He is a skilled forward who works just as hard without the puck as he does when his team has it. He can be used on both the power play and the penalty kill as his speed is a weapon on both. He has shown flashes of his overall talent in the NHL, but has yet to bring it consistently.
The 2019-20 season has been a major disappointment for Athanasiou coming off a career-best season with 30 goals and 54 points. That success did not carry over as he has just 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games for the Red Wings to go along with a minus-45 rating.
That plus/minus rating is a reflection on how bad things have been in Detroit more than on his individual play. The Oilers are hoping that getting thrown into the middle of a playoff race will jump-start Athanasiou’s offensive production.
Move to Edmonton Should Provide Spark
Every season there are multiple trades involving young players who are in need of a “change of scenery.” Athanasiou is the perfect candidate for having a huge uptick in production after changing teams. He is going from the worst team in the NHL to a team with playoff aspirations and some superstar talent.
One would hope playing on a team with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would bring out his best. Athanasiou is one of the few players who have the speed to actually keep up with McDavid on the wing.
Both players love to carry the puck up the ice, but Athanasiou will have to learn to get up the ice without it and have McDavid find him in the right places on the rink. Time will tell if he can succeed with the best player in the game or if he will play further down the lineup.
The bottom line is, the Oilers are a better team this afternoon than they were when we woke up with the additions of Green and Athanasiou.
Stay updated on all of today’s moves with our 2020 Trade Deadline: Deal Tracker.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.