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On Athanasiou’s Swiss gambit

The irony for me is this: what Andreas Athanasiou is doing is very Russian. Igor Larionov went to Lugano and played a year there when he was in a contract dispute with the Canucks way back in the early 90's. Jari Kurri did it, too, going to Italy. The Russians go fly to Zurich for a couple of weeks when they were in contractual disputes with their teams. It's gotten to the point that some Russian teams will hold their training camps in Switzerland, skating with the Kloten Flyers or whoever as a sort of Western European giveaway.

To me, the most telling remark of this evening's news (duly reported by Paul; the Malik household has been ill all week long) came from MLive's Ansar Khan, and it may explain why Athanasiou's on a plane to the Italian-speaking portion of Switzerland this evening:

The Red Wings have had two offers on the table -- two years at $1.9 million a season or one year at $1.25 million. Athanasiou was seeking $2.5 million per season.

Now that the season has started, Athanasiou is losing money. So even if he signed for $1.9 million, he would make the prorated amount of that salary.

Athanasiou had been contemplating an offer from the KHL's Ak Bars Kazan but a source said the Russian team withdrew the offer because the forward was asking for too much.

We're already a month-and-a-half into the KHL season, and if Kazan, one of the KHL's richest teams, thinks that Athanasiou's asking for too much, that's scary, because they're awash in Tatneft's (Tatarstan's state oil company's) petro-Rubles.

Things get tricky for Athanasiou in terms of signing with a European team now because the NHL season is underway, and once you take a paycheck from a non-NHL team during the NHL season, you have to clear waivers to return to playing in the NHL before July of the following year. That places Athanasiou's trade value very, very low should he sign with Lugnano or any other team in the coming days. Once the NHL season starts, if you play in a European pro league, your ass is staying there [edit: see CBA article 13.1, page 71 of the NHLPA's Collective Bargaining Agreement, page 91 of the PDF file /end edit].

Now Athanasiou can continue to skate with Lugano and take in the sights without care until December 1st. That's when another date comes into play, and it's another hard and fast rule--the last date upon which restricted free agents can re-sign with their [NHL rights-holding] teams and play in the NHL that same season.

Athanasiou will still lose pro-rated money off whatever offer the Red Wings have made (did I mention that the Swiss league's best teams can't afford to pay Athanasiou anywhere near $1.9 million?), because the NHL season is underway, and he's missing NHL paychecks as a result, but he can go skiing (if he wants to risk his knees), check out the snow bunnies, try the chocolate and sip the Schnapps, but unless he signs with the Red Wings--or gets traded--he's blowing potential NHL income and he's blowing his NHL eligibility, day by day.

The Athletic's Craig Custance reports that the Wings would consider trading Athanasiou, but they want more for AA than he's worth:

According to an NHL source, the Red Wings aren’t actively shopping Athanasiou. Their preference is that he plays for them this season and continues to progress as an exciting young player.

But multiple sources confirmed that they are listening. They have to at this point. Teams are calling to check in on the situation to see how eager the Red Wings are to make a move. The message back has been consistent. The return has to be a good — a young player with similar upside. The Red Wings are telling teams they aren’t moving Athanasiou for  something like a second-round pick or a player in their late 20s who only makes them marginally better.

One rival GM told The Athletic on Friday the asking price for Athanasiou was high – a young, top-four defenseman or a young center.

Custance continues (Paywall), reminding us that Jacob Trouba was in a similar situation last year, and if you recall how that situation played out, player lost leverage and money before re-signing with the Jets and rescinding his trade rquest.

Now the Red Wings would take Jacob Trouba for Athanasiou, straight-up, but that's not going to happen, so in all honesty, we're in a situation where one side has to blink or the other does. And Ken Holland does a lot of things when he's impatient, but I get the feeling that blinking isnt one of them.

If I were a bettting man, and I'm not, I'd be a HC Lugano jersey with Athanasiou's name on it that he still signs with Detroit...sometime this season. As to whether he does so in time to play in the NHL during the 2017-18 season, I'm not so certain. It's up to Andreas, and not too long from now, he's going to be waking up in Switzerland, half a world away from the Red Wings.

Whether he finds the accommodations to his liking isn't in question: Lugano is beautiful, and some players have said that playing in Switzerland is like taking a playing vacation. It's not the NHL, and it's not going to be NHL money no matter what.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink



Maybe that’s his way of forcing his way off the team.  If KH won’t trade him which is what it sounds like he wants at this point, he can put himself through waivers doing this and someone’s found to pounce.  As he’ll put it, it’s about the respect factor.  When you feel disrespected, that’s a bitter taste.

Posted by ThatGuy on 10/06/17 at 11:16 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

So, once again, AA literally has no way out other than to sign and play.

Dump your agent, AA.

Posted by ilovehomers on 10/06/17 at 11:23 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

The teams lack of available cap space makes it even more tricky to get a player of potential equal skill if they want to trade him. I would really hate to see him go simply for picks…

Posted by Down River Dan on 10/06/17 at 11:23 PM ET

PDXWing's avatar

He can’t force waivers. He has to have a contract for that to be relevant. GM’s point is that it makes no sense for the Wings to sign him if he takes Non-NHL money because he would have to go through waivers, where he will be claimed. So, no contract will be offered until the off season, in that case. If he signs with Lugano, he’s done for the NHL season.

I agree that he will sign with DET in the near future. He really has no other choice, if he wishes to have a NHL career.

Posted by PDXWing on 10/06/17 at 11:31 PM ET


He can sign the Detroit contract after accepting a check by a euro team but coming back before sec, forcing him to go through waivers since he’s played for another team this season assuming he does.  He decides if he wants to sign in Swiss league or not, and I don’t see KH not signing him if he’ll sign and for the price he’ll be valuable to other teams.

Balls in his court in this regard and it maneuvers him of the team without needing to beg for a trade.

Posted by ThatGuy on 10/06/17 at 11:51 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Posted by Down River Dan on 10/06/17 at 11:23 PM ET

KH might want HIGH pick(s) if he wants to ease his Cap Space mess.

Finding a player KH views as fair return might cost him more or longer than AA.  KH is then in Mantha/Larkin contract trouble next year.

As a player I am still a big AA fan but he reminds me of my son, brain didn’t develop fully until age 25!


Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 10/07/17 at 12:23 AM ET


George can you provide some further clarity on the ‘passing through waivers’ aspect of the Athanasiou situation?  Are there certain circumstances the Wings could be in danger of losing Athanasiou for nothing (regarding waivers)?  There seems to be a few different takes on the details of that part of your article.

Posted by Forlanforlan on 10/07/17 at 12:24 AM ET


If AA signs a contract in Europe first, the Wings will simply not allow him to sign a contract with them until after the season, bypassing waivers. They won’t lose him on waivers for nothing, he’d just be locking himself out of the NHL for the year.

Posted by Brilith Ruin on 10/07/17 at 12:49 AM ET


The signing overseas then having to pass through waivers does not apply to AA. The Red Wings own his rights in the NHL and there is no loop hole around that. The overseas rule applies to players who start the season with another league and then sign with an NHL team. This happened when we signed Evgeni Nabakov and the Islanders claimed him.

AA is 100% Red Wings property at the NHL level and he can not get around that

Posted by kwood15 on 10/07/17 at 01:17 AM ET


AA can not sign a contract with any other NHL team unless its an offer sheet. So he can in fact play in rhe swiss league if he has an out clause should he sign with the Wings.

Again the only way AA is not a Wings is by an offer sheet the Wings cant match, or he sits until he signs a contract. He has zero rights

Posted by kwood15 on 10/07/17 at 01:23 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

If Athanasiou signs with Lugano, if he wants to re-sign with the Red Wings, he has to pass through waivers. That’s how it worked with Nabokov, it’s how it worked with Jagr (which is why he didn’t just re-sign with an NHL team for a playoff run)...

It’s on page 71 of the CBA, article 13.1:

13.1 A Club shall not dispose of the services of any Player in which it has a proprietary interest by Loan to a club of another league without first having complied with the provisions of this Article. The Waivers that are recognized by this Agreement are Regular Waivers and Unconditional Waivers.

13.2 The “Playing Season Waiver Period” shall begin on the twelfth (12th) day prior to the start of the Regular Season and end on the day following the last day of a Club’s Playing Season.

Subject to the provisions of this Article, the rights to the services of a Player may be
Loaned to a club of another league, upon fulfillment of the following conditions, except when elsewhere expressly prohibited:

(a) Regular Waivers were requested and cleared during the Playing Season Waiver Period; and

(b) the Player has not played in ten (10) or more NHL Games cumulative since Regular Waivers on him were last cleared, and more than thirty (30) days cumulative on an NHL roster have not passed since Regular Waivers on him were last cleared.

See also:

For Players age 20 or older, Professional Games include NHL Games, all minor league regular season and playoff games and any other professional games, including but not limited to, play in European leagues when Player is on Loan to such club, and while Player is party to an SPC.

Athanasiou can sign with the Red Wings WITHOUT playing for Lugano until December 1st. He can practice with Lugano until December if he wants to, but he cannot sign a contract with that or any other overseas team, or waivers come into effect.


Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/07/17 at 01:34 AM ET


Find it odd that KH is asking too much for him, not going to settle for this or that. If you think the kid makes you better, pay him if you think Booth or Frk will/have replace him, get rid of him. When you deal with other teams are you bringing up comparables, not. Don’t get me wrong KH, I’m on your side the same way I’m on AA’s side, whatever means you have to bargain you use. My personal feelings are this kid is good and when you cut him loose, he’s going to show you just how wrong you are about him.

Posted by stateofmifan on 10/07/17 at 01:50 AM ET


Forgot to post script my last post. Welcome back George, hope you’re feeling great. Paul had you covered, good to see you back.

Posted by stateofmifan on 10/07/17 at 01:59 AM ET

Paul's avatar

from SwissHockey,

Athanasiou will start practicing with Lugano and then assess his options. HC Lugano has confirmed the arrival of the forward. They, however, point out that they will not offer a contract to him as they are “fully satisfied with the performance of their four import players”.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 10/07/17 at 07:16 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

AA has no control. The Wings wont allow him to come back if he signs.

At the point he signs, its their choice. Much like Devils/Kovalchuk (Devils retained rights unless they gave it up).

Besides, if there was a chance that AA could force himself out…

1. In this particular case, Kenny would rescind the offer and again…
2. IF AA HAD ANY WAY OUT AND WANTS OUT SOOOO BAD (as reported by the “why are we even fans of this team?” contingent of KK), WHY HASNT HE DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT????


Posted by ilovehomers on 10/07/17 at 07:51 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Kenny gets crushed here for letting non-factors like Coreau and Pulky go for nothing, but now when we can’t get AA signed, the sugfestion is to “just get rid of him” for less than value?

If AA will continue to be as good as state thinks, why is it on Kenny to lose a trade for AA’s sake?

Holland literally cannot win. Lol.

Posted by ilovehomers on 10/07/17 at 08:14 AM ET


AA surely doesn’t have any leverage but this will not only be an issue with AA but Mantha and Larkin as well.  How can you justify these hardball negotiations when you’re paying Glendonothing 1.8mln+ per season? Or paying Abdelkader over $4mln+? Holland ruined his internal salary cap structure by overpaying marginal players while getting cheap with legitimate NHL players with upside.  Next summer will be fun as the Wings will be in salary cap hell while having to sign Mantha, Larkin and I’m sure AA.

Posted by bababooey on 10/07/17 at 08:33 AM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

options for AA are now VERY limited; note:

Athanasiou had been contemplating an offer from the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan but a source said the Russian team withdrew the offer because the forward was asking for too much.


“Athanasiou will start practicing with Lugano and then assess his options. HC Lugano has confirmed the arrival of the forward. They, however, point out that they will not offer a contract to him as they are “fully satisfied with the performance of their four import players”.

imho - his agent has given bad advice; consider THIS from 09/29/17 post.
as both players are represented by the same agent, Darren Ferris.
Anderson finally signed, AA hasn’t ...

now he is (further) damaging his image / character (maybe a bit too big for his britches?)

sign the 1-yr deal AA and prove you deserve more if you really want to excel in the NHL.


Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 10/07/17 at 11:16 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

I would like to know who wrote this article, because it certainly was not GM.

As far as AA, he’s backed himself into a corner and is now trying to climb the walls instead of accept his fate. Considering he’ll make a fraction of what he would make in the NHL if he signs in Switzerland, and with no benefit to future NHL negotiations, his rep needs to be fired post haste.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 10/07/17 at 11:37 AM ET


According to Custance, KH and AA met in Toronto just before training camp and KH offered more ice time, PP time, PK time and place in the top 9. I always thought it was about how AA was being used and Blashill as coach. After the reassurances from KH and AA still won’t sign, I don’t know what to think. AA should have signed at that point. He is hurting himself now.

Posted by Mackster from Eastern Canada on 10/07/17 at 12:23 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Sure doesn’t sound like Lugano is nothing more than expensive ice time. They have their 4 imports signed and would have to dump one.

At 1st I viewed AA calling KH directly was a good move but I hope AA at least used it wisely.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 10/07/17 at 12:40 PM ET


Can his parents give him some better advise?

Posted by VPalmer on 10/07/17 at 01:30 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Posted by damndog from The Eastside of Detroit on 10/07/17 at 03:12 PM ET


Posted by ilovehomers on 10/07/17 at 03:36 PM ET

PDXWing's avatar

From the Custance article

The two sides met in Toronto during the first Saturday of training camp, the only time during these talks Athanasiou and Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke face to face. The message was made clear to the talented winger: Athanasiou’s role on the Red Wings was going to increase. He’d have a spot in the top nine. He’d play 15-16 minutes per game. He’d get power-play and penalty-kill time and his opportunities would go from there. Even during a negotiation that hasn’t gone particular smoothly, the Red Wings wanted, and still want, him on the team.

That message, and the offer of a two-year deal worth $1.9 million per season, still wasn’t enough to get it done.

Posted by PDXWing on 10/07/17 at 05:06 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Wow. Just….wow.

Thanks, PDX and Mack. I didnt remember reading that.


Posted by ilovehomers on 10/07/17 at 05:14 PM ET


PDXWing: Thanks for posting the constance quotes. I was out this afternoon.

Posted by Mackster from Eastern Canada on 10/07/17 at 07:14 PM ET


To me, the Trouba comparison is really apt. I see this playing out the exact same way, unless AA is epic levels of dense.

Posted by Jamespqr on 10/07/17 at 07:32 PM ET

PDXWing's avatar

Sure thing.

I’m trying not to get emotional about AA and remember that it’s a business, but it’s hard to see how he’s not hurting his career (regardless if he’s a Wing or not). I wonder how much his agent is driving these decisions, or if AA is ignoring cooler heads in this negotiation.

Posted by PDXWing on 10/07/17 at 10:21 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.