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Andreas Athanasiou Shunning Oilers Before NHL Free Agency a Mistake

Looking more closely at Andreas Athanasiou’s situation in NHL free agency, one wonders if the forward regrets turning down the Oilers.

One Edmonton Oilers media member believes that, right about now, Andreas Athansiou might be regretting the fact he discounted the Oilers offer before the team chose not to qualify the forward. In other words, the now-free agent gambled on himself and is realizing that gamble might not have paid off. Unlikely the two sides revisit each other in contract talks, what’s left out there for the one-time 30-goal scorer?

Related: Did the Oilers Pick the Right Priority in NHL Free Agency?

It’s probably difficult for a player to say no to a team, test the market and then come crawling back when that market doesn’t offer what he might have expected. That about sums up where Athanasiou is at right now in free agency. Crawling back might be an exaggeration, but Athanasiou playing for the Oilers this upcoming season is likely out of the realm of realistic. So too, it’s not like the Oilers have a lot of cap room to squeeze him in now, having gone a different direction.

And, while Athanasiou hasn’t signed yet, it doesn’t mean he won’t land with a new NHL team in the coming days or weeks. But, the question of what kind of term he’ll get and what those numbers might look like have to be concerning for a forward where there are still some pretty good wingers on the market and not a lot of room for teams to add.

Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal notes that when you look at Athanasiou’s current situation, his decision to decline what many have said was a two-year deal for more than $2 million per season from Edmonton seems like a potential mistake now.

Leavins writes:

As time slowly ticks off of the Free Agent clock, one does wonder at the logic of Andreas Athanasiou and his agent taking a pass on a 2-year deal offered to the-then RFA, for a reported $2m+. I just don’t see him getting a contract that rich anywhere else, especially in this compressed market. Perhaps he didn’t like the role Edmonton projected for him, less than the offer itself.

The Market Hasn’t Been Kind to Players Like Athanasiou

There are a handful of players in Athanasiou’s position. They are skilled forwards who have the potential to play well, but have shown inconsistencies in their game. They potentially believe they’re worth more than the current market wants to pay and in holding out for more money, they’ve gone unsigned.

In any other financial landscape, holding onto hope for a better pay day might have worked. This season? Not so much.

In Edmonton, the Oilers wanted Athanasiou back. General manager Ken Holland believed he had skills that could benefit the team and it’s why he traded for him at the NHL trade deadline. But, Holland wasn’t willing to pay $3 million and couldn’t afford to. The Oilers walked away. It was the right decision not only for the team, but as the market has now proven.

Leavins’ suggestion that Athanasiou might have said no to Edmonton because of the role he was offered is interesting. If true, it suggests his lack of landing somewhere might be less about money and more about finding a team that wants to place him in a pivotal role. It’s also interesting because Holland certainly would have hoped to see Athanasiou finally get a longer look alongside Connor McDavid. What better role could Athansiou have asked for?

He’s certainly not going to get that opportunity in free agency.

Someone is going to get a deal on this player. It’s too bad the Oilers don’t have the room, that Athanasiou is potentially not going to swallow his pride and that, more so, he couldn’t have seen this coming in the first place.

Next: Duclair Turns Down Huge Offer, Did He Sabotage His Own Free Agency?

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