Friedman wonders about Athanasiou for Oilers

It’s quite easy to be critical of trades the Oilers have made, but which specific moves can they make to head in a better direction?

Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek spent most of the latest edition of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast delving into the franchise’s woes in the wake of Peter Chiarelli’s firing, and at one point Friedman brought up one potential avenue that could be explored.

“One of the guys I’ve kind of heard that they’ve had some interest in, but I’m not sure that he’s actually available, is Athanasiou from Detroit,” noted Friedman.

“See, that would indicate a significant philosophical shift away from, ‘We’re a big, heavy, strong team,’ to ‘We’re a fast, speedy, quick, puck-moving team,’” considered Marek.

“I’m not that Detroit wants to do that,” replied Friedman. “He’s still one of those guys that averages a lot of goals for the time he plays.

“The relationship between Athanasiou and the Red Wings has never really been easy, but Ken Holland strikes me as looking at that situation and saying, ‘He’s still a very valuable young player and we’re not really looking to do anything if we don’t have to.’

“But let’s just say this for argument’s sake. What’s it going to cost you to get him? It’s going to cost you a lot.

“So in theory, since we’re playing GM here, if you’re Edmonton, do you give up one of your young pieces for him.”

“For Athanasiou, yes,” indicated Marek. “Because he is a young piece himself, and he can play with McDavid at that tempo. That would be frightening to the rest of the NHL. You want to talk about backing up defensemen on the blueline - that’s how you do it.”

Friedman pointed out in the midst of Marek’s response that Athanasiou would be a controllable asset for awhile longer as well.

“So here’s my question to you,” continued Friedman. “Bob Nicholson says, ‘We’re not giving up our young pieces for rentals.’ But he’s not a rental. So that changes the equation, possibly, if he’s available.”

Andreas Athanasiou is in the first season of a two-year, $6 million contract with the Red Wings, after which he’ll be eligible to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly