Andreas Athanasiou

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Video: Athanasiou buries first goal since conclusion of contract stalemate

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Eight days after finally settling on a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings, Andreas Athanasiou has his first goal of the season.

Situated wide open in the slot, Athanasiou went down to one knee to one-time his shot, which beat Florida Panthers goalie James Reimer on the glove side to give Detroit the lead in the first period.

Athanasiou made his season debut on Thursday, going without a point in 11:38 of ice time against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After a long summer of negotiations, reports that the now 23-year-old forward, a restricted free agent at the time, could sign with a KHL team, and a holdout that entered the second week of the season, Athanasiou and the Red Wings finally agreed on a one-year, $1.387 million contract.

Athanasiou had a strong 2016-17 season with 18 goals and 29 points in 64 games, displaying terrific speed and skill, and the ability to make special plays on a team that could use another young dynamic offensive presence in its lineup.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

Red Wings frustrated with slump, but not looking for excuses

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Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg put it bluntly after Thursday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We aren’t good enough to win games and that’s why we lost six in a row,” he said.

We knew the Red Wings probably wouldn’t be a playoff team again this season, and now they’re mired in a 0-5-1 stretch and stuck near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The negative possession numbers (via Corsica), constant penalty taking (tied third-most in NHL with 54) and inconsistent play make that 4-1-0 start seem forever ago.

Andreas Athanasiou’s presence back in the lineup will help, but there are plenty of issues here for head coach Jeff Blashill to try and fix. For starters, he’s turning off the line blender off for now. So the top six will see Zetterberg stay with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, while Athanasiou will continue playing with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.

“We have guys who’ve been elite in this league and we need them to step up and be elite. We need guys, and we have them, to step up and make plays,” he said via the Detroit News.

Blashill is hoping to try and find chemistry in his lines as his seat warms up. His name could be found near the top of “First NHL Coach Fired” lists before the season and his chances of staying in the job certainly haven’t improved through 11 games.

Detroit’s next two games give them a shot at snapping this slide, however. Saturday night they visit the Florida Panthers, who have lost four of their last six games and then have a Halloween home date versus the winless Arizona Coyotes. There are no excuses right now.

“I look at the next game. We better have confidence. There’s no reason not to have confidence,” Blashill said. “We have tons of belief that we can win. To me, not having confidence is an excuse. Penalties are an excuse. We’re in the no excuse business. Let’s find solutions here… Are we frustrated? Sure, we’re frustrated, but it doesn’t do anything. Let’s find a way to a solution right now.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Red Wings trade Riley Sheahan to Penguins for Scott Wilson

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It was simply a matter of when, and not if the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to swing a trade in an effort to improve their center depth.

On Saturday, they finally completed such a deal.

They hope.

The Penguins acquired forward Riley Sheahan and a 2018 fifth-round draft pick from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Scott Wilson and a 2018 third-round draft pick.

The move accomplishes something for both teams.

For the Red Wings, it helps them clear some necessary cap space following the new one-year deal for Andreas Athanasiou while the Penguins get some much needed center depth.

After losing Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen over the summer in free agency the Penguins did not make any corresponding moves to fill those spots. They opened the season with Greg McKegg and Carter Rowney occupying those spots. While they have done a solid job so far there was obviously still some room for improvement.

The question is whether or not Sheahan can help provide that.

Sheahan, 25, has had some reasonable success in the NHL scoring 27 goals between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Since then, however, he has been mired in one of the most unbelievable goal scoring droughts in recent memory, scoring just two goals (both in the final game of the 2016-17 season) in his past 88 games. He has a shooting percentage of just 1.7 percent.

One way to look at it if you are the Penguins: He has to be due to bust out of that drought at some point because players that have shown the ability to score close to 15 goals in the NHL don’t typically lose that when they are still 25 years old. Perhaps a fresh start, in a new situation with better teammates around him can help him along. It wouldn’t be the first time something like that has happened in recent years with the Penguins (looking at you, Justin Schultz).

As for Wilson, he has appeared in 108 NHL games with the Penguins scoring 13 goals to go with 19 assists. He scored three goals in 20 playoff games during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run a year ago. Given the Penguins’ depth on the wings, as well as the potential for a mid-season callup for Daniel Sprong there just was not much room for him in Pittsburgh.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Andreas Athanasiou, Red Wings finally settle on one-year deal

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The contract stalemate between the Detroit Red Wings and Andreas Athanasiou is finally over.

On Friday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the two sides struck a deal that will see the 23-year-old forward back in the lineup, at least for this season. It’s a one-year deal worth $1.387 million.

Due to Detroit’s tight salary cap situation, the deal has not been officially registered with the NHL because general manager Ken Holland needs to free up space in order to fit Athanasiou’s contract.

Athanasiou, who was a restricted free agent this summer, was seeking a two-year deal worth around $2.5 million per season. The Red Wings, meanwhile, were holding firm on a one- or two-year deal carrying a $1.9 million AAV. As the stalemate dragged on, he began practicing with Swiss side HC Lugano, but did not sign a contract. He had until Dec. 1 to make an NHL return in order to be eligible to play this season. The KHL card was played, but as Torey Krug showed, that move is always a clear bluff.

The one-year pact is essentially a “show-me” deal for Athanasiou, who scored 18 goals and recorded 29 points last season. He finished second on the Red Wings in even strength goals (17) in 2016-17 and tallied a pair of overtime winners. A good year and with some salary off the books next summer, he can cash in with a longer-term contract. He’ll once again be an RFA next summer, so Detroit will control his rights, but he’ll have arbitration rights.

According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, along with the contract Athanasiou has been promised a minutes bump from the 13:27 he played last season, as well as regular time on both special teams units.

Detroit is off to a 4-3-0 start and averaging 3.14 goals per game. Once Athanasiou arrives from Switzerland and gets up to speed — possibly with an AHL conditioning stint — his presence will certainly be a boost to the Red Wings’ lineup.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.:

 

It’s time for Athanasiou, Red Wings to make a decision on his playing future

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The NHL season is underway and there’s still no sign of Andreas Athanasiou in Detroit.

The Red Wings and the restricted free agent still haven’t come to terms on a contract extension, which is unfortunate for both sides.

Athanasiou has been skating with HC Lugano over in Switzerland over the last few days. According to The Hockey News, there’s a lot of interest from Swiss League clubs and Omsk in the KHL has reportedly offered him $2.5 million this season.

One of the benefits to playing in Europe in 2017-18, is that he could suit up for Canada at the upcoming Olympics. He might never get an opportunity like that again.

Regardless of what the player, team and agent (Darren Ferris) decide, it’s time for them to make a decision on Athanasiou’s short-term playing future.

It’s clear that the young winger is serious about getting the right dollar amount he feels he deserves (if he’s bluffing, he’s a crazy-good bluffer), but it’s time for his camp to decide what his next move is going to be.

In recent years, players like P.K. Subban and Johnny Gaudreau have missed training camp and regular season games during holdouts. Even though they were around the same age as Athanasiou is now, they were still more established in the NHL than he is at this point.

Subban gave in to what Montreal was offering him back in 2013, as he accepted a bridge deal. Despite missing training camp and a couple of games, he went on to win the Norris Trophy that year.

As for Gaudreau, he held out last season, got a long-term deal, but saw his production dip quite a bit (he had 30 goals and 78 points in 79 games two years ago, and 18 goals and 61 points in 72 games in 2016-17).

Athanasiou is nowhere near as accomplished as those two players. Still, his numbers would indicate that there is some intriguing upside there. The 23-year-old had 18 goals and 29 points in 64 games with Detroit last season. He also has a ton of speed, which is an asset, especially in today’s NHL.

The Red Wings may hold firm with their current offer, but last time I checked, their roster isn’t loaded with offensive superstars. After all, they missed the playoffs in 2017, so they can use all the help they can get.

The other way they can parlay Athanasiou into immediate help is by trading him to another team in the league. Even though his value isn’t sky-high right now, there will be teams interested in his services for the reasons mentioned above (Montreal, Ottawa and Los Angeles have all reportedly shown interest).

So either Detroit forks out the money Athanasiou wants, they trade him away, or they decide to let him suit up in Europe (that doesn’t benefit them at all). Whatever the decision is, it’s time for both parties to put this story behind them.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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