Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning had been linked by so many insiders to the Detroit Red Wings as the major target that they were wanting to pursue in the off-season. When forward Pavel Datsyuk decided to return to his native land of Russia, the Wings were left with a big void at the center position.
Once the news of Datsyuk was officially set in stone, the Stamkos speculation really started to heat up in Hockeytown.
Then, the 2016 NHL Draft came about and Detroit secured the 16th overall pick in the first round. Once the time came and they were on the clock to make a selection, the Wings made a move that added more wood to the fire in regards to the Stamkos speculation. Detroit traded the 16th overall pick to the Arizona Coyotes, along with the $7.5 million dollar cap hit left on Datsyuk’s contract and received Joe Vitale, the 20th overall pick and an extra second round pick in return.
It was a steal of a move for the Red Wings’ front office and freed up the check book to potentially really make a run at the highly talented forward.
Not even a week after that, Wings fans were brought back down to reality. News broke on Wednesday of Steven Stamkos reportedly opting to stay with the Lightning for at least eight more years. The deal left many Red Wing fans scratching their heads, wondering why general manager Ken Holland didn’t give more of an effort to try and land him.
There were rumors of what Detroit was willing to offer Stamkos, but nothing really came out on if they actually presented the offer to him or not. So in reality, we’ll never really know, unfortunately.
Now that the hype of the possibility of him playing in Hockeytown is out the window, we have to turn the page and look elsewhere to fill the void. Names like Milan Lucic and Frans Nielsen are at the top of the speculation list now for Detroit. Neither name really sends any kind of excitement through the body to be perfectly honest with you.
There could be a silver lining to all of the this. The solution to the formula to help fill the void left by the ‘Magic Man’ could very well be one of the Red Wings’ own young, exciting prospects.
His name, Andreas Athanasiou, better known as ‘Double-A’.
Athanasiou made his NHL debut last season on November 8, 2015 against the Dallas Stars. It took him playing in two NHL games to record his first career NHL goal against the Washington Capitals. His combination of electrifying speed and play-making ability make him such an intriguing prospect heading into next season. Getting a taste of what the NHL brings last season is surely going to help him this off-season and drive Athanasiou to really prove that he belongs on the main roster.
In 37 games last season, Double-A produced nine goals and five assists and really made his presence known every time his skates touched the ice.
I’m not saying he’s going to be inserted right into the No. 1 center spot, let’s get that out of the way very quickly. What I am suggesting though is that Andreas Athanasiou has all the tools to be a mainstay on the Red Wings’ roster and it wouldn’t cost Detroit anything.
He’s got a nose for the net on the offensive side of things, he chips in defensively on the penalty kill and can really use his blazing speed to his advantage. It’s something to definitely think about and really start considering as a possibility come next season.
Check out some of the production Andreas Athanasiou dished out last season wearing the winged wheel.
This kid has a bright, bright future in Hockeytown!