Striking new developments reveal that restricted free agent forward Andreas Athanasiou is considering an offer in the KHL amidst contract negotiations with the Red Wings. The Athletic’s Craig Custance confirmed the initial report from Rick Dhaliwal, a news anchor at 1130 Sports in Vancouver.
At first, the report was controversial and unbelievable. I had never heard from Dhaliwal before, so my reason for skepticism was warranted. Either way, the Red Wings and Athanasiou’s camp continue to try and put together a deal, but the aching concern is that the Red Wings’ unfortunate reality of being in cap hell could be playing into the equation here.
Athanasiou is a gifted young talent with electric abilities, so perhaps they’re looking for something longterm, as opposed to a bridge term. Of course, all of the specifics in this news is unclear, and according to what Custance had confirmed, what’s being offered in the KHL seems like something Athanasiou wouldn’t get in the NHL at this point in time. It’s hard to blame a young player trying to get paid, but leaving for Russia before considering trade options would leave a bad taste in more than one mouth, I’d imagine.
My opinion: I think Athanasiou and his agent are using what little leverage they have to get a better deal from the Red Wings. Smart on their end, because RFAs are left with little-to-no leverage in contract talks. Good on him for exercising what little he has, but I have a hard time believing he ends up in the KHL next season.
We’ll keep an eye on this situation as it develops. Stay tuned, and please don’t yell at me.