Do you ever go to the grocery store and think, “I don’t need a cart or a basket, I only need to pick up a couple of things”, but then you start making your way through the aisles, stacking cans, boxes, and bags in your arms? And you almost make it to the cash register when you can’t juggle all the loose items any longer and they start to fall to the ground one by one?
With reports tonight of Andreas Athanasiou considering a one-year offer from the KHL, I imagine that’s just how Ken Holland feels right now.
The news broke at around 6:23 PM EST on Tuesday evening:
Hearing Red Wings RFA F Andreas Athanasiou could be signing in Russia soon. Talks with Red Wings going nowhere.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) August 22, 2017
Since nobody really knew if this Rick Dhaliwal was a legit source, there wasn’t a lot of stock put into the rumour. It wasn’t until The Athletic’s Craig Custance responded that the situation turned dire:
Andreas Athanasiou's agent confirms KHL offer for the Red Wings restricted free agent: https://t.co/rn8cGm29et
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) August 23, 2017
“I have received a considerable offer that is significant,” Athanasiou’s agent, Darren Ferris, confirmed to Custance via text.
Whether Ferris is playing negotiation games or not, it begs the question of why Holland hasn’t locked up his 2016-17 G/60 leader yet. The speedy Athanasiou is young, and he’s got incredible potential with explosive speed and smooth hands. Sure, his game needs to be rounded out a bit, but this is the type of player that you prioritize signing. Instead, Holland has treated him as an afterthought. Before extending a potential key part of your future core, the Wings made sure they signed Trevor Daley, and Luke Witkowski. Then, re-signing Tomas Tatar to his $5.3M AAV contract put them almost $4 million over the salary cap. Removing Johan Franzen’s $3.9 million AAV by placing him on the LTIR brings them just under the cap ceiling, leaving no room for Athanasiou. Something was going to give and if Holland doesn’t want to make a decision, somebody is going to force him to, whether it’s a team in the KHL or one in the NHL.
This was more bad news for Red Wings fans as it comes off the heels of captain Henrik Zetterberg’s assertions to a Swedish news outlet that he’ll likely retire before the end of his contract. Another grocery item slipping from between the arms of the struggling Ken Holland.