The Detroit Red Wings' woes ended up in their second consecutive year without qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs as the team in Hockey Town struggled for offense during the entire 2017-18 season. While general manager Ken Holland and the fan base could point the finger at different players, one important piece of their struggling offense was speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer.
After a contract holdout to start the year, Athanasiou returned to the Red Wings 10 games into the season and initially proved to have been worth the wait, posting 17 points in 31 games. That seemed all fine and well until you quickly notice that he only put up 16 points in the next 40 games. Consistency seems to be a huge issue for Athanasiou, and might be a sign for Holland and management to make a crucial decision on his future with the Red Wings.
Fans and pundits are not the only ones unsure about the young forward's future in Detroit, as The Detroit News' Ted Kulfan also recently wondered if forward Athanasiou is going to stay with the team. Despite the 23-year-old winger’s speed and skills, inconsistency remains an issue, he writes:
"But would the Red Wings be better off trading the young forward for a young defenseman who is available (if there are any)?"
While AA should have a contract in place by mid-August, avoiding the possibility of repeating last summer’s contentious negotiations, there is a possibility that the Wings could move him during the summer.
There is a very scarce market for young defensemen right now, however, there has been trade chatter about Edmonton Oilers defender Oscar Klefbom. At the end of March, the 24-year-old underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, but is expected to be fully healthy next season. Klefbom is in the second-year of a seven-year, $29.169 million contract.
The Oilers are expected to make a number of changes this off-season as they hope to rebound after an extremely disappointing 2017-18 campaign - just like the Red Wings. Moving Klefbom for help up front remains something the Oilers would be willing to entertain, if the right offer presented itself.
In 66 games with the Oilers this season, Klefbom registered five goals and 16 assists for 21 points.
Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli is said to be looking to acquire a quick, top-six winger for next season to play alongside the likes of captain Connor McDavid or star Leon Draisaitl. Athanasiou could definitely fill that role.