KHL ‘more of a probability’ for Wings’ Athanasiou
Detroit — Would Andreas Athanasiou really leave the Red Wings for Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League?
It’s becoming to look like he would.
Athanasiou’s agent Darren Ferris told The Detroit News Tuesday because of the wide disparity in negotiations, the chances of Athanasiou going to the KHL are increasing.
“I will say that because of the huge disparity, the KHL has moved to more of a probability at this time,” Ferris texted The News, when asked about the state of negotiations.
Training camp begins Sept. 15 and the two sides — Athanasiou is the Red Wings’ lone unsigned restricted free agent — are nowhere near a deal.
Already over the $75 million salary cap — although teams are allowed to be just before the regular season begins — the Red Wings (who are at approximately $77.5 million) are offering Athanasiou a two-year contract at just under $2 million per season.
But multiple KHL teams are reportedly offering Athanasiou around $3 million on a one-year deal, which makes Russia a worthy alternative for a young player with no real contract NHL leverage.
Athanasiou earned $628,333 last season with the Red Wings.
General manager Ken Holland had no comment Tuesday.
Athanasiou, 23, has had an impressive start to his NHL career.
Athanasiou scored 18 goals with 11 assists in 64 games last season, and has 27 goals over 101 career NHL games, in limited ice time.
The Red Wings would continue to own Athanasiou’s rights were he to leave for the KHL.
One interesting motivation for Athanasiou were he to play in the KHL: he would be eligible to participate for Canada in the upcoming 2018 Olympics, something that would not be possible in the NHL which is not allowing its players to go to the Olympics.
Another sign hockey isn’t far from beginning — the annual prospect tournament in Traverse City begins Friday.
The Red Wings host an eight-team tournament at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, with teams from Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, the New York Rangers and St. Louis also taking part.
The championship game is Tuesday, after teams complete a round-robin of games in their division and play a crossover game.
Many recent Red Wings draft picks will comprise the tournament roster. Of the 35 players who skated for the Red Wings last season, 26 competed in the prospect tournament.
All games in the 2017 tournament will stream live on Fox Sports Go and DetroitRedWings.com.
The Red Wings re-signed defenseman Robbie Russo.
Russo, 24, played 19 games with the Red Wings at the end of the season, with no points and a plus-2 rating.
In Grand Rapids, Russo had seven goals and 25 assists (32 points) in 58 games with the Griffins.
Russo will compete for a roster spot with the Red Wings, but is likely to begin the season in Grand Rapids.