The answer to this question is a resounding “YES!” In light of TSN’s Darren Dreger’s comments earlier this morning on Twitter regarding the current Andreas Athanasiou contract dispute, this could be the final nail in the coffin on Holland’s tenure as GM with Detroit.
“Andreas Athanasiou in ongoing discussions with KHL teams. Unless something shifts in Detroit, indications are Athanasiou will jump to KHL.” - Darren Dreger/TSN
The fact that we sit here in September roughly one month to go until the puck drops on opening night of the 2017-18 NHL regular season and still no contract for Athanasiou is completely unacceptable. Obviously, we can’t account for what has been said between both sides during the negotiation process, but we can speculate...can’t we? Depending on what your view may be of fair market value for AA, it seems unlikely to me that his contract demands are in the neighbourhood of Tomas Tatar or even Darren Helm for that matter (but again, I’m not the agent?).
Regardless, I would put his value in the 1.5 to 2.5 million per year range on a two year bridge deal and if it were up to me I would pay him up to 3 million per year just to keep him in Detroit. Why overpay you might ask? Well, that’s simple when taking a look at the endless list of overvalued contracts that currently plague the Red Wings roster. Justin Abdelkader weighs in at a $4.25M AAV for the next six years, Helm is owed a $3.85M AAV over the next four years and of course, everybody’s favorite Red Wing Jonathan Ericsson has a $4.25M AAV for the next three seasons. These are just a few of the poor contracts on the roster and as long as Holland continues as general manager, there could be more to come.
Without talking ad nauseum about Ericsson’s contract, I’ll just say this: he should have been bought out during the buyout window in July and then this current contract dispute might be more of a minor headache than a migraine right now. However, Holland’s complete lack of determination to rectify his salary cap issue in order to get a young rising star like AA signed has only trapped him and now it is the player that holds all the cards. According to his agent, Darren Ferris, the 23-year-old could definitely leave for Russia because there is a great disparity between the dollar figure on both sides. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press outlines the Red Wings contract offer below:
“Athanasiou, a restricted free agent who does not have arbitration rights, is believed to have an offer of one year in the range of $2.5-3 million from AK Bars Kazan. The Wings fattened their initial offer from one year at $1.25 million to two years at $1.9 million per year.” - Helene St. James/Detroit Free Press
Kenny, what are we even talking about here?! As I stated earlier just pay the man his $3 million per year and cut the apron strings on the loyalty with your fellow veterans. Holland’s tendency to favor the seasoned (and I meaned seasoned) veterans over good, young, promising talent has become more than just a head scratcher...it’s infuriating. AA had 18 goals and 29 points in 64 games last season — that’s a 0.45 PPG rate for those keeping track at home and better than Abdelkader and Helm’s outputs. We could sit here and argue his defensive metrics were not as polished last season or that he does not fit the prototypical 200-foot game that the Red Wings covet. Whatever Holland’s reasoning for not coming to terms on a new contract is anybody’s guess?
But, here is what I know for certain. I would rather take the chance on one of the fastest skaters in the league in an NHL where GM’s draft and build their teams around speed up and down the lineup — just ask any GM why Jaromir Jagr is still without a contract — than honoring whatever “I owe you’s” that Holland promised when signing the endless list of long-term extensions. A change needs to be made in the front office and Holland is no longer the man for the job because he still thinks this is a contender and can’t see the writing on the wall that is calling for a rebuild. Is the change too late? It could be considering Holland may have done catastrophic damage to this team already with AA potentially having one foot out the door. If he jets for Russia, do the executives feel the same way about pulling the trigger on Holland’s firing? Time will tell, but the direction of this team is heading towards a painful road to recovery as long as Holland calls the shots, and in my mind it’s time for a fresh face at the podium sooner rather than later.