Detroit’s made ‘a number of offers’ to Athanasiou

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One of the brightest — and fastest — young players in Detroit is right in the thick of contract negotiations.

That’s what Red Wings GM Ken Holland told MLive this week, explaining that he’s constantly speaking with the agent for RFA forward Andreas Athanasiou.

“I had a number of offers. We continue to talk,” Holland said. “We’ve had a number of conversations.”

Athanasiou, 23, just wrapped his entry-level deal and did so in style, posting career highs in goals (18), assists (11), points (29) and TOI (13:28 per night). He’s regarded as arguably the best and fastest skater on the team — one of the true speedsters in the NHL — and, in an earlier report from MLive, could be looking at a deal that pays $1.5 million annually.

Athanasiou doesn’t have arbitration rights, so Holland will largely dictate how negotiations play out. That said, Holland’s hamstrung by the club’s salary cap situation, as outlined here:

Holland said Monday he anticipates being slightly over the $75 million cap if everyone is healthy to start the season. That would force the team to trade or waive a player. But Holland said they will wait to see what unfolds in camp and preseason.

The Red Wings’ cap figure stands at about $77.5 million, including $2.56 million of dead space from Stephen Weiss, who was bought out in 2015, and Franzen. They could get as much as $3.95 million in cap relief from Franzen, which would take them down to roughly $73.6 million. That doesn’t leave a lot to sign Athanasiou, a restricted free agent, and provide a small cushion to recall a player from the Grand Rapids Griffins as a replacement for someone on short-term IR.

In late July, Detroit signed RFA forward Tomas Tatar to a four-year, $21.2 million extension, one that carries a $5.3M average annual cap hit.