POSITION: Right wing/center
CONTRACT: 2016-17 will be the third year of his entry level contract, which comes with a cap hit of $628,333 if he is on the NHL roster. He will be a restricted free agent after the season.
2015-16 REGULAR SEASON STATS: 37 games, nine goals, five assists, five penalty minutes, +1 rating
2015-16 PLAYOFF STATS: Five games, one goal (first postseason of career)
CAREER REGULAR SEASON STATS: 37 games, nine goals, five assists, five penalty minutes, +1 rating
Speed is the name of the game for Athanasiou, who scored his first NHL goal for the Red Wings on November 10 in a 1-0 victory. His ice time was limited last season, as he averaged just 9:01 per game. He has shown impressive all-around offensive ability not only in his time with Detroit, but also during his time with the Grand Rapids Griffins. In 83 career regular season games with the Griffins, he has scored 25 goals to go with 26 assists.
While still on his entry-level contract, Athanasiou is not waiver-eligible, meaning he would not have to clear waivers to be assigned to the minor leagues. Although his blazing speed was a welcomed addition to the team last season, the team may choose to bury his contract in the minor leagues to start the season due to a log jam at the forward position. We’ve seen it before, and all know that Ken Holland is a big fan of letting talent “over-ripen” at the minor league level. But, if Athanasiou has an impressive training camp, he could force Holland’s hand into keeping him on the main roster in a second or third line capacity. As he showed in his first season with the Wings, “AA” is capable of using his speed as a tremendous weapon, but it remains to be seen if he can parlay that into a roster spot this year.
BIGGEST QUESTION: Can Athanasiou’s speed and offensive ability earn him a spot on the roster coming out of training camp?