JUST IN: Andreas Athanasiou considering leaving Red Wings

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NHL: Andreas Athanasiou 3
Apr 2, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings center Andreas Athanasiou (72) shoots the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Red Wings beat the Maple Leafs 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Forward Andreas Athanasiou may not be with the Detroit Red Wings for the 2017–18 season. According to sources, the restricted free agent is in talks with the KHL for a one-year deal.

This summer, Athanasiou and the Wings have been trying to negotiate a contract, but to no avail. His departure would come as a major blow to the organization, which is in need of young talent like his. Last season, the twenty-three-year-old played in 64 games, scoring 18 goals with 11 assists. The then-rookie averaged 13 minutes per game.

Negotiation difficulties may point back to the ongoing salary cap issues of the Wings. Earlier this summer, Athanasiou was listed as one of the “must-sign” free agents for the organization, along with Tomas Tartar and Xavier Ouellet. At that point, signing all three players would have put the Wings above the salary cap for the season.

Athanasiou impressed his teammates last season, with both his speed and his stick handling. With any luck, the talks of a deal with the KHL are just to get the Wings moving to finalize contract negotiations. There’s no denying the team could use his offense.

Last season, the Red Wings ended their 25-year playoff streak, we lost Mr. Hockey and we said goodbye to the Joe. Losing Athanasiou to the KHL wouldn’t be a great way to kick off the 2017–18 season.