After coming close to a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Detroit Red Wings are actually sending Andreas Athanasiou back to his old GM instead. Ken Holland and the Edmonton Oilers have acquired Andreas Athanasiou and Ryan Kuffner. In return, the Red Wings will receive Sam Gagner, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick. The Oilers will retain 10% of Gagner’s remaining salary.
As our Brian La Rose wrote when Athanasiou looked like he was heading to Columbus, it has been a very strange season for the 25-year-old. Last year, he had a career-best 30 goals and 24 assists in 76 games and it looked like he was on his way to being part of Detroit’s long-term core. However, things have gone completely off the rails this season. He has struggled considerably offensively with only 24 points in 46 games while his plus/minus has been dreadful at -45. That’s already in the bottom 30 all-time among NHL forwards.
While he would have had plenty of opportunity in Columbus due to their injuries, Athanasiou’s future in Edmonton may be even more exciting. One of the few players in the league who can keep up with Connor McDavid’s skating ability, there is a chance the pair could be combined to make the fastest line in the league. That kind of speed could be devastating for opponents to deal with, though Athanasiou will have to find some more consistency in his game to deserve a spot on the top line.
Not only will he know the GM from their time in Detroit, but Athanasiou will join Mike Green on his way over from the Red Wings at the deadline. You might not think that grabbing two players from the worst team in the league is a positive strategy, but familiarity is certainly a factor here for an executive that wants to win right away.
In terms of the return, Detroit gets two nice picks for a player that was bound to be a tough negotiation this summer. Athanasiou is a restricted free agent again and had already held out late into the offseason previously. The 25-year old currently carries a $3MM cap hit but could certainly put himself in line for a big raise with a strong few months in Edmonton.