Andreas Athanasiou will bring some need for speed to the Los Angeles Kings.
With Free Agents now flying off the board ahead of the first batch of Training Camps opening on Thursday, the Los Angeles Kings signed UFA Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million deal per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.
It will add a bucketload of speed to that LA Kings roster with Athanasiou an absolute speed demon, while the forward will be looking to restore his reputation following a disappointing cup of coffee in Edmonton with the Oilers.
Like many of these recent slate of signings across the NHL, this is a low risk / high reward type deal for both sides with the Kings rebuilding and looking ahead to a bright future with a loaded prospect pool, while Athanasiou will be looking to boost his value and increase his stock once again.
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Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings with the 110th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry draft, Athanasiou recorded 154 points (83 G, 71 A) in 294 career NHL regular season games.
His best year came in 2018-19 when the left shot put up 30 goals and 24 assists for 54 points in 76 games for the Red Wings, a clear sign of the talent that he possesses.
Athanasiou was traded to the Edmonton Oilers at the 2019-20 Trade Deadline and was seen as an ideal running mate for Connor McDavid, a weapon that could greatly benefit from playing alongside one of the greatest talents in the game.
However, it didn’t really pan out for Athanasiou in Edmonton and the 26-year-old recorded just two points (1 G, 1 A) in nine regular season games, before going cold turkey in four postseason contests.
But, while it was far from a match made in heaven with the Oilers, Athanasiou seems a good fit for the LA Kings and there will be little pressure given that they aren’t expected to be a Playoff team in 2020-21.
Boasting blistering speed, able to make plays on his own and also capable of hitting 30 plus goals when he’s at the peak of his powers, Athanasiou could slide straight into a top six role for the Kings and he may be the ideal fit on rookie center Quinton Byfield’s line.
Byfield is big and powerful and he could benefit from having a rapid quick playmaker on his wing, someone who can both score and create goals and Athanasiou fits that bill perfectly.
He can also slide in on the power play and his speed makes him a lethal weapon on the penalty kill in terms of creating shorthanded chances.
On the flip side, Athanasiou is a defensive liability, as perfectly illustrated by the chart below, and that has been the rub against him for the majority of his career.
If the Los Angeles Kings can look past that though, perhaps putting Athanasiou on a line with Anze Kopitar to ensure he’s not expected to do too much work in his own zone, then they will be getting a player who can still improve and is about to reach his prime years.
Plus, the evidence is there that Athanasiou can hit the 30-goal plateau and, if he can do it for what has been a horrendous Red Wings team for years now, then he can certainly do it for a Kings team that is very much on the rise and could be a dominant force once their crop of prospects break through.
Still boasting $12,420,715 in cap space too according to CapFriendly, the LA Kings aren’t really risking too much by taking a flier on Athanasiou for $1.2 million in 2020-21.
If it doesn’t work out then they can cut their losses and move him as an expiring contract but, if Andreas Athanasiou can rediscover the secret sauce that once made him a 30-goal scorer in the NHL and one of the most underrated young forwards in the game, then this could be a home run of a move for the Los Angeles Kings who could then re-sign the 26-year-old as a key piece of their core moving forward.