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Photo Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

By The Numbers: Andreas Athanasiou

Hello Nation,

Monday, NHL trade deadline day, was huge for Oilers fans: Ken Holland was busy improving the team as they gear up for a playoff run. They began the wheeling Sunday night by dealing a conditional pick to acquire defenseman Mike Green from his former team, the Detroit Red Wings, and exchanged a 2021 fifth round pick for hometown boy Tyler Ennis from the Ottawa Senators. But the real steal of the day, the acquisition that should have the greatest impact on the team and their push to the playoffs, was the speedy forward he also nabbed from the Red Wings: @Andreas Athanasiou.

Let’s take a deeper look at his numbers so far this season.

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5v5 counts
CF% GF% xGF% SCF% HDCF% HDGF% On-Ice SH% On-Ice SV%
44.73 25.40 44.10 44.91 43.40 21.95 5.97 .856

Let’s just point out the glaringly obvious: none of these counts are good. In fact, they’re brutal. Let’s start out by pointing out the worst parts. There has been a narrative that as good of an offensive threat that Athanasiou has been thus far in his career, he’s been a subpar defensive player. The Corsi percentage is not good, and was 16th on a bad Red Wings team, but it is worth noting that only Anthony Mantha has a CF% of over 50 (52.33).

The on-ice save percentage is an ugly blight on Athanasiou’s game too. Out of players who have played a minimum of 400 5v5 minutes, he’s dead last. That’s a pool of 565 players, and the winger is at the bottom of the heap (Andrej Sekera is first FWIW).

Goal-scoring also seems to be an issue: the percentages are low in both all-areas at 5v5 (25.40) and in the High Danger area (21.95), meaning either in the slot close to the crease or on fast rushes and rebound attempts. But the Expected Goals For percentage (xGF%) is actually in a respectable place, despite an on-ice shooting percentage of 5.97% and a career-low personal all-strengths shooting percentage of 8.7%. This indicates AA’s shot quality is likely quite high, but the goal-scoring is hard to come by this season.

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There can be myriad reasons for this, one of them being that individual counts can be linked and largely relative to the construction and deployment of the roster, so putting Athanasiou’s individual game in context to the rest of the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings is worth looking at.

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Season Team Differential Average Goals/Game
2009-10 Edmonton Oilers -70 2.84
2010-11 Edmonton Oilers -76 2.79
2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets -60 2.73
2013 (48 games) Florida Panthers -59 2.72
2013-14 Buffalo Sabres -91 2.74
2014-15 Buffalo Sabres -113 2.73
2015-16 Vancouver Canucks -52 2.71
2016-17 Colorado Avalanche -112 2.77
2017-18 Buffalo Sabres -81 2.97
2018-19 Los Angeles Kings -61 3.01

This is a list of each team with the worst goal differential over the past ten seasons, along league-avenge goals-per-game.

This season, the goal-scoring pace is currently 3.04– the second-highest since the first year after the lockout (2005-06), and if it remains above 3.0, it will be only the fourth season with over 3.0 since the 1995-96 season– and the Red Wings currently have a goal differential of -110.

They have also scored 82 5v5 goals, 19 less than the next closest team (Dallas Stars), the worst by far in the last ten season (the lockout-shortened 2013 non-inclusive), though they are in range to pass the 2013-14 Sabres (96 5v5 GF) by season’s end.

They also have the 2nd-worst 5v5 save percentage as a team with .906 (the San Jose Sharks are worst with .900).

All of this is to say that when it comes to both stopping and scoring goals, this season’s Red Wings are very very bad.

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So what are the Oilers getting? By now we’ve heard and/or read about Athanasiou’s blazing speed– a skill that many put on par with Connor McDavid– so that seems to have many sliding him naturally onto Connor’s left wing. The above isolated impact heat chart show’s the Red Wings’ 5v5 shot rates; the deeper the blue, the lower below league average the team shoots from that area, and the darker the red the higher they shoot relative to league average. As you can see, the Red Wings are not good at shooting this season.

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Above is Athanasiou’s individual isolated impact; it indicates that the winger helps to generate shots from at-or-above the face-off circle while on his strong side (left wing) while pushing the shots closer to the High Danger area when on his off-wing.

If he is in fact going to be riding shotgun on Connor’s wing, then let’s look to see how his shooting tendencies might compliment the Oilers captain’s.

Well first off, as you can see McDavid pushes 5v5 offensive chances right to where you want to see them, that big red splotch in front of the net. It’s pretty fascinating how McDavid and Athanasiou might in fact compliment one another, diversifying the scoring threat in the offensive zone even more to spread out the scoring chances.

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Though he isn’t back until next Friday, I thought it was worth including Zach Kassian’s chart too, as he will likely eventually find himself back on the top line. You can see why Kassian is impactful, helping to funnel almost the entire offence to the high Danger area while he’s on the ice 5v5.

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Final Thought

The defensive statistics are not pretty, but they don’t have to be. Andreas Athanasiou was traded for his offensive instincts and skill, and has been pried from a situation in Detroit where he was leaned on as a major weapon– along with Mantha, Dylan Larkin, and Tyler Bertuzzi– but is brought in to Edmonton to serve as a complimentary piece.

His speed and skill cannot be ignored (one season removed from 30 goals) and he will have every opportunity to play with (and succeed) on the top line with McDavid (and likely) Kassian, and playing with then, and their offensive tendencies, will likely raise that on-ice shooting percentage.

It’s a solid pick-up for the Oilers, with Ken Holland providing McDavid with a solid linemate, improving the forward depth, and most importantly giving Oilers fans something that they have been begging to see for far too long.

Hope.