Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers 2019-20 player review: Andreas Athanasiou

The Andreas Athanasiou era in Edmonton hit the brakes about as fast as it got started. With only nine games under his belt in Edmonton, we’re going to dive into his time before coming to town, and what he’s done in a short showing.

Athanasiou was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2012 Entry Draft but was a slow developer on his way to the NHL.

He returned to the Barrie Colts of the OHL for two more seasons post-draft until he went pro joining the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. He split time between the AHL and NHL over the next two years totalling 51 points in 83 minor league games.

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In the 2015-16 season, he got a call up in February and stuck with the Red Wings totalling 14 points in 37 games. In 2016-17, he joined the Red Wings on a full-time basis and made his impact felt scoring 18 goals and 29 points in 64 games.

His big break, however, came in 2018-19. Athanasiou saw a spike in his ice time and made the most of it scoring 30 goals and 54 points in 76 games.

And this season, with the Red Wings rebuilding, he was made available on the trade market. Edmonton made a deadline deal acquiring he and AHL’er Ryan Kuffner in exchange for Sam Gagner and two second-round picks.

Early in his time in Edmonton, Athanasiou had struggled. He suffered a lower-body injury that had hampered his play as he appeared to struggle to fit in, but the truth is that it wasn’t shocking that happened.

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There were, and still are questions about Athanasiou’s overall game. He’s been considered a defensive liability at times, but is very well known for his speed and offensive IQ. With that he seemingly struggled to click with Connor McDavid, but once again he suffered an injury that had impacted his on-ice play.

WIth that, it’s even more difficult to make any major assumptions about his game. Earlier in the year, he had scored 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games with the worst team in the league by a long-shot, the Detroit Red Wings.

We can muster a few important things in thanks to hockeyviz.com. In his 107 minutes, an extremely small sample size, he contributed 36 more offence and 50 percent less defence than league average. So it backs the sentiment that he struggles defensively and is strong offensively.

His shot locations chart shows good things in that he gets to the dirty areas of the ice crashing the net and firing shots from there. In nine games with the Oilers, he scored one goal and one assist.

I think there’s a great player in Athanasiou that the Oilers have acquired and they did so without giving up their first-round pick. Ken Holland knows Athanasiou well given that he drafted him and watched him develop.

An RFA at seasons end, I don’t think there’s any doubt the Oilers look to re-sign him this offseason whenever that may be. He’s coming off a two-year, $3-million deal and has two years left of being an RFA.

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With that, I think the Oilers would be best suited in giving him a one-year deal around the $3-million mark. It retains his status as an RFA allowing the Oilers to have control of him and gives him a full-season to see what he’s truly made of. At 25, Athanasiou is still young and could be a big part of this Oilers roster down the road.

On Twitter: @zjlaing