Detroit Red Wings: Andreas Athanasiou dazzles in Edmonton Oilers debut

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings sent pending restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou and pending free agent Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers in a pair of trades.  Athanasiou was very impressive last night during his first game with his new club.

It was odd watching the Edmonton Oilers skate against the Anaheim Ducks last night after getting a glimpse of Mike Green in an Oilers jersey.  But for Andreas Athanasiou, he looked right, and he fit right in playing alongside Connor McDavid.  The Detroit Red Wings sent the pair to Edmonton in two separate deals before the 3 PM Est Monday NHL trade deadline.

I made a joke about how well Andreas Athanasiou would enjoy playing with McDavid; it’s a surplus of speed paired together.  The two playing together has the potential to melt ice.  For the younger crowd, when they are on the ice together, it’s like playing NHL 20 in arcade mode.

I wasn’t sure if Athanasiou would immediately be inserted on the Oilers top line, but that exactly what head coach Dave Tippett decided to do.  Along with Athanasiou, Tippett skated Tyler Ennis, another newcomer on McDavid’s other wing.  It was a calculated decision to put two players who would be chomping at the bit to make a great first impression together and squish arguably the best player in the league between them.

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It’s the first time Connor McDavid has seen his organization stock up at the trade deadline with the idea of making a playoff push.

Andreas Athanasiou had been struggling mightily this season with the Detroit Red Wings just a year removed from scoring 30 goals for the first time in his career.  Athanasiou was able to demonstrate he can regain his scoring touch by finding the back of the net late in the third period last evening, forcing overtime.  It wasn’t pretty, Athanasiou found some loose change in the crease during a scramble in front, and he was able to deposit it into the back of the net.

Athanasiou also recorded an assist.  His two points will make for a great first impression with his new club.  Edmonton would eventually lose 4-3 in OT.  The Oilers were desperate to add a top-six forward to take some pressure off the best duo in the league.  Leon Draisaitl currently leads the NHL with 99 points, McDavid is third with 87.

In his first contest with the Oilers, Athanasiou played nearly 17 minutes, about one shift more than he averaged with the Detroit Red Wings.  It’s a small sample size, but with the Wings, Athanasiou produced a career-low 44.8 Corsi For Percentage, to go with his league-worst minus -45 rating.  Last night his Corsi For Percentage was an incredible 76.5%, and he was a plus 2.  That’s what playing with some of the best players in the league will do.

The former Detroit Red Wings forward has all the tools in his tool chest to excel at the NHL level.  Don’t be surprised if Ken Holland tries to sign Athanasiou long-term this summer, furthermore supporting trading away two second-round picks for his services.

Note: Mike Green played just shy of 13 minutes, a far cry from the 21 and change he was used to playing this year with the Detroit Red Wings.  He didn’t record a point and was a minus -1 on the night.

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If you want to check in on the former Red Wings, Edmonton plays again tonight at 10:30 PM Est against the Vegas Golden Knights.