After starting off the 2017-18 season in a contract dispute, Andreas Athanasiou was expected to take that next step and solidify himself as a building block for the future. One of the main arguments for why Athanasiou should have ended the stalemate was so that he could go out on the ice and prove to management he deserves his big pay-day. Despite seeing flashes of an elite player, Double A’s season was plagued with inconsistency leaving many question marks about his role on the team.
Another looming issue came in the form of ice-time. He spent time playing both center and wing, adjusting to the center position on the fourth line. So the optimal eighteen to twenty minutes a game came in spades. Near seasons end, Athanasiou was clearly frustrated with his deployment.
Athanasiou’s tendency to leaving the crowd wanting more is demonstrated perfectly by the PET chart. The potential to be a game-breaker is there. Offensively, his bread and butter is scoring goals. His shot output is above-average, as are his goals-for. Doing so with an average shooting-percentage, which is more of a good thing than a bad thing. However, his low shot-assists makes sense with the majority of his offense coming off the rush and on the breakaway. His hockey IQ isn’t at a level where he can make his teammates better in the playmaking department, which hurt his transition to center.
Speaking of transition, Athanasiou is just unfair. His transition stats would be hard to think are possible in a video game. Both exit and entry rates he’s a cheat code in. His speed is the obvious culprit. The case could be made that he has completely eliminated the need for a puck moving defensemen. To sum up just how deadly he is off the rush, nine of his fifteen even-strength goals came off entry situations.
As mentioned before, Athanasiou missed the start of the season due to a contract dispute – eleven games to be exact. However, he did not miss a game due to injury or being scratched. Despite the eleven game absence, he still set a career high in games played.
He set career highs in assists and points, and it wasn’t for a dreadful powerplay he would have eclipsed his goal mark as well. He was shooting more this year, evident by his additional fifty shots in comparison to his 2016-17 campaign. With that came a lower shooting-percentage which was well under his career average.
While all career highs seemed nice, his short playing career is masking disappointment. By mid-season, he had a five to ten game stint of pure dominance. He looked like a true superstar. This is where a large bulk of his points came from. Besides that, he was what Jeff Blashill would call a “passenger”. Some nights he was invisible and a no-factor. His inconsistency is truly difficult to comprehend, because when he’s going he can be unstoppable.
The corsi ratings don’t speak the truth either. His corsi-for percentage comes up the short of the half-century mark, which is quite disappointing considering he isn’t being deployed heavily in the defensive zone, and on some nights had a rating above fifty-five percent. He finds himself in the middle of the pact, in terms of Red Wings skaters, but that isn’t exactly hard to do.
Relativity, it is at least pleasing he isn’t in the negatives. He slots in at number ten on the team. Sure he wasn’t complete crap, but if you told me prior to the season that’s where he would have ranked, I would have laughed. He needs to be closer to the infants rather than the teens.
The same issues with Athanasiou comes up once again in goal-based stats. He doesn’t stand-out. He ranks tenth in GF/60 and ninth in GA/60. While he isn’t the worst in either category, failing to reach the upper echelon of the team in either regard isn’t good enough. He needs to stop being a passenger.
In all honesty… will he even be a Red Wings next season? The most likely trade chip for the club, I’d say there is a decent chance he gets shipped out of Motown this off-season. For the sake of this player review lets just assume he is a Red Wing next season (assuming there is no contract troubles again as well). Well, I want to say he puts it all together for a fifty or sixty point season, but I don’t think he has merited the opportunity for more ice-time from Blashill. So realistically I think somewhere near the forty-point range including twenty goals. As well help the Wings on the penalty-kill on their second unit. While this is my prediction, this is not my expectation.
Put simply, not good enough. My frustration has already been stated, but he needs to be much better. The flashes of brilliance were nice, but I want reliability. Was misuse a factor? Sure, but when the opportunity to become a go-to-guy presented itself, he stagnated. When he was feasting on bottom-feeders like the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators it was easy to buy in to the excitement, but the long haul proved to be too much.
Maybe expectations were just too high.