Detroit — Andreas Athanasiou agreed to a one-year deal Friday for $1.35 million, which is $100,000 more than the Red Wings reportedly offered him a few months ago.
The move raises the specter of all three potential stars on the roster, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Athanasiou, negotiating contracts for next season.
The difference between the now resolved negotiations this season and next for Athanasiou is that he will have the right to seek arbitration.
Asked if he can get them all signed without shedding other contracts on the roster, GM Ken Holland said, “I don’t see why not.
“Contracts are expiring,” he said. “They are projecting the cap is going to go up.”
Athanasiou must return from Switzerland, where he contemplated playing in Europe. Then, Holland said, he must obtain a work visa and pass a physical before the contract becomes official.
The Wings face the necessity of cutting $1.35 million from the payroll by trading or cutting players.
Holland said once the Red Wings place Johan Franzen on long-term injured reserve, the Wings had to subtract an equal salary for any salary added — regardless of the cap.
“Once we went LTIR (long-term injury reserve), it's one dollar in, one dollar out,” Holland said.
A trade is a possibility. Pittsburgh has been reportedly interested in Riley Sheahan, although by now the Penguins may have other resolutions in mind to address their lack of depth at center.
The Red Wings may also decide to cut one or more players.
Regardless, they are moves the Wings have long contemplated after offering Athanasiou $1.25 million for one year, and $1.9 million for each of two seasons.
“Ultimately, we’re going to have to do something with our roster, whether it’s short term or long term,” Holland said. “We have some time to figure out what we’re going to do here.”
Athanasiou would have to respond to questions about how much his playing time or his role with the team concerned him, Holland said. Athanasiou averaged 13:28 ice time last season, lagging behind Larkin and Mantha.
Holland confirmed that during a telephone conference between the two sides Monday, Athanasiou was told his playing time would grow.
Jeff Blashill dismissed an assertion that he and Athanasiou had conflicts last season over his role.
“Well, I don’t know about friction,” Blashill said.
“I think when you coach people sometimes, you have to demand more out of them, change habits, do all of those things. I’ve done it with almost all of the group in there at one time or another."
Blashill said he had two conversations recently with Athanasiou, on Monday, when the Wings presented what he called their final offer and again Friday.
“I told him both times, when Andreas comes back and plays at a real high level we’ll be a better hockey team," he said. "We’ll get him in here, and once he’s up to speed he can have a real good impact for us.
“I think Larkin, Mantha, Andreas, they’ve all had to learn some lessons here in the last couple of years in their maturation as players, and then you get to the point where hopefully they’ve learned those lessons and now they have to produce at a high level, with good ice time.”
The Mississauga, Ontario native made $575,000 last season when he had 18 goals and displayed speed rarely seen.
The previous season, he had nine goals in 37 games.
Through 101 career games, Athanasiou has 27 goals and 16 assists.
Holland said that while he did not anticipate that Athanasiou will be “just able to jump in on the roster,” the forward may not have to go to Grand Rapids for “game conditioning.
“He’s a young player, a very talented player who had an impact on our team for the last year and a half,” Holland said. “How good a young player is he going to be? You never know until you watch the process play out.”
Holland said he feels no ill-will after the tough bargaining.
“From my perspective, he was doing things that he was able to do under the CBA, and it was a process — probably longer than he would have liked and I would have liked.”