I’m not sure what the numbers are, but there’s certainly a preference by many NHL GMs to trade for players they know well. The reason is simple. They used to have them in the organizations they previously managed before taking on their current jobs and feel a sense of connection other GMs simply don’t. It makes sense considering said GM would have first-hand knowledge of a player, his skill set, his attitude in the room and how he’d mesh with the team he’s trying to improve.
This might be why there are rumors of Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland being interested in forward Andreas Athanasiou out of Detroit. Holland knows him well, negotiated with him before and perhaps knows better than anyone what he’d be getting himself into should he acquire him in a trade.
The Athansiou to Oilers Rumor
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal was the first to report the possibility of a trade. He wrote on Twitter a few days ago, “You can bet Holland is eyeing Athanasiou in Det too. He Loves his speed. His hands don’t quite match his top 5 wheels but he’s restricted free-agent, and Wings’ Steve Yzerman didn’t draft him.”
Matheson makes a lot of good points here and it’s pretty easy to see why there is belief Athansiou will be moved out of Detroit. The Red Wings are sellers this season, Athansiou has struggled a little, but he’s still the kind of player who could fetch some value in a trade. And, as Matheson mentioned, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman isn’t likely loyal to the player since he didn’t draft him and is merely looking at doing what’s best for the organization long-term.
Red Wings Want to Make Moves
Yzerman just stated in an interview that he’s not looking to be passive and is hoping to bring in picks or young players that can contribute sooner than later at this year’s deadline. This gives Edmonton a good opportunity to land Athansiou without having to move anything off their current roster, if they don’t want to.
The Oilers have talked about moving Jesse Puljujarvi, even for a rental and maybe there’s something here. That said, Athanasiou would be more than a rental. As an RFA, the Oilers would have the ability to re-sign Athansiou if they’d like at the end of the season; a bonus that makes a trade for the Oilers even more favorable. This is especially true if Athansaiou can pick up the pace a little this season. Right now, he’s struggled with only five goals on the season.
Oilers Window is Now
Holland has also said he believes the Oilers window to compete is now and having rattled off three straight wins and going for a fourth against the Flames on Saturday, the Oilers are right in the conversation as a playoff team. Holland is absolutely looking at ways to boost Edmonton’s chances without mortgaging their long-term future.
Does Yzerman’s desire to be active and Holland’s new interest in improving the team this season open up a chance there’s a deal in the making here? There would certainly be worse options out there than Athanasiou, and as was mentioned at the start of this report, Holland knows exactly what he’d be getting into and what he’d be getting if he made a deal.
So too, after what was rumored as the ask for Josh Anderson from Columbus, the Oilers might be looking elsewhere and Detroit makes sense.
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