Revisiting the Andreas Athanasiou situation

Can Detroit and the Rangers help each other?

This post was written a few days ago. Since then, the beat writers have bemoaned the lack of center depth, AV has gone crazy with his line combinations and the Rangers threw up a stinker to the Devils (I fear for the Rangers against the Pens as I schedule this post…). So without further ado, back to one potential external center solution?

The Rangers inability (or stubbornness?) to properly address the center position prior to the new season has definitely had an impact on their uneven start to the season, even if more of the blame can/should be rested squarely at the feet of Alain Vigneault and his now borderline inexplicable coaching decisions (please, no more Steven Kampfer).

What makes the Rangers struggles at center even more frustrating is that there are very legitimate, indeed enticing, options outside of the organisation. Are ten days into a season too early to make a external move? Well clearly not, as the club deemed it appropriate to pick up journeyman depth player Adam Cracknell. Yay.

Andreas Athanasiou remains in Michigan limbo, and while no one will ever confuse Athanasiou with Steven Stamkos or Connor McDavid, he would certainly help legitimise the Rangers most troubling position. Aside from perhaps the unpredictable headspace of Alain Vigneault, and at least to me, Athanasiou just makes too much sense not to pursue. Yes, Athanasiou has been talked to death as a potential option for the Rangers, but the worrying start has made outside help even more of a topic for discussion.

The Canadian center is a speedster that fits well into the Rangers DNA, he has regular 20 goal potential, Detroit are hard pressed to fit him in financially and given the obvious public stalemate between player and the Wings not to mention the potential defection to Europe just to get game time, and it’s hard to believe Athanasiou can’t be had at a reasonable price.

Even with the recent online chatter that the team and the player are in communication and the Wings don’t want to trade, it’s simply hard to think a deal that could help both teams can’t be found here….

While the Rangers had (finally) started to address their lack of legitimate prospects in recent times, of course, they still cannot throw away assets recklessly. However, given the Rangers newfound and apparent logjam at the blueline throughout the organisation, and given the Red Wings need for legitimate NHL talent on the backend at reasonable cap hits, there is surely a fit to be had.

Would you package Ryan Graves for Athanasiou? Would you package a deal with Nick Holden and a mid round draft pick to get Athanasiou (a deal where the Rangers would clearly need to take something else back from Detroit…)? With the additions of talents such as Tony DeAngelo and Niel Pionk the Rangers can afford to swing for a kid with upside such as Athanasiou.

Other blogs have suggested the Rangers need a true, traditional fourth line center and no, Athanasiou would not be the cure to the bottom line (and PK) woes. He is also not the only name on the market worth exploring this early into the season (ah, expansion fall out….). He would however add talent at center, speed to the line-up and has significantly more potential upside than the Band-Aid type addition that is David Desharnais. Athanasiou could also be insurance come next summer should any of the Rangers upcoming free agents course cap headaches (Hayes, Miller, Vesey all RFA).

Alain Vigneault almost refusing to dress an optimal line-up with the tools at his disposal is stress inducing. It is also frustrating that the Rangers have legitimate options outside of the organisation that could be significant upgrades at reasonable cost. Andreas Athanasiou is just one such example.

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  • Humorous fact. Every NHL team that Steven Kampfer has dressed for 30+ games for has finished first in their division.

  • I agree he would add talent and speed, but I think your final points about usage and a true bottom six checking center are the problem here. Hayes cannot really take on hard minutes.

    Honestly, the more I look at it, the team seems to have gone thinking that Lias was ready to handle the 4C role and hard minutes, with Descharnais at the 3C. There were a ton of cheap options readily available in the off-season to fill this role.

    Having said that the center position is only one of the two problems the team faces. The other is AV. Until he is fired into the sun, we will be mediocre.

  • Give the kids like Nieves or Fogarty a shot as 4C: if they don’t work, offer 5 years, front loaded for just under $3.5mm($3.36mm plus inflator from the start of the current CBA), give up a 2nd.

    • Given how bad our center situation is, the front office, especially Drury, must not think either is an appealing option at the moment—which doesn’t bode well for either of them or the Rangers short term options.

      • Seeing how Boo plays top 6 minutes and Fogarty is the guy they use to close out the last few minutes of a game, you’d be mistaken; nothing new there.

        • Now that’s not nice. 🙂

          I have no idea about the prospects. I readily acknowledge that you have far more knowledge about them than I do. However, with all due respect, your analysis of AHL and other prospects hasn’t exactly always been bang on accurate—because guess what—you’re just a fan!

          I’m not weighing in here one way or another, because I dont know. But I am willing to guess that Gorton and Drury have a better sense if a player is ready or not more so than even you, the Hockey Oracle. So it is reasonable to surmise that THEY (the PROS) don’t feel they can help—today anyway.

          Call me crazy. 🙂

    • IV and Richter!!!!!!
      YES ON BOTH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Nash has been great ….except he cant finish on most of his chances……
      Lindberg would be the answer to the 4th line problems…….

      • Lindberg would be the # 2 center on this team behind Z. Gorton screwed up big time. Mr Softie Hayes should have been exposed. No way is Vegas giving up Linberg.

        • Lindberg, after getting over the hip injury from the past season was our best center down the stretch and in playoffs…..
          I hated to see him go. Hayes could be a star with his talent and size but unless he starts to play like an ”animal” he is just another nemchinov…..who messier couldn’t wait to get rid of!
          Cant understand how gorton and av couldn’t wee the value in lindberg, but I don’t understand how they couldn’t see the value in anton strallman either……or stallberg, or stempniak ………Sometimes I think….aren’t they watching????????

        • Bobby B,
          great 2 minute video on you tube of nicky fotiu intimidating the flyers titled…… Ice Guardians Extras: Nick Fotiu
          Google this its good….

          • Rich S, going to check it out NOW. Thanks. Nicky Fotiu the man who single handedly stood up to the Broad Street Bullies and gave the Rangers a backbone and Respect. Lord he had no fear, called out the entire Flyer team, even though the majority of his teammates were softies. Much like this current roster.

          • Until ‘Boxcar Hospodar ‘ got there…….I watch the video of boxcar pummeling mel bridgeman at least once a week, along with nicky beating behn wilson and paul holmgrem……..the dave browns, saleskis, duponts,and schultzs of the world ran from him….schultz even said so in interview years later….
            when nicky came up in preseason we also had paul stewart, a willing combatant we let go to the nordiques……

      • Hey Rich. Nash is snake bitten. He’s played very well but cannot finish as you stated. Hopefully that turns around soon.

    • Again, I’m not 100% sure this is right, but I believe the expansion ddraft rules prohibit a direct trade to reacquire a drafted player for one season. So I believe that’s a non-starter..if I read that right.

  • The Rangers don’t have enough forward depth when healthy what’s going to happen when the weight of playing in the Metro Division starts to take its toll? Bottom line this organization was not ready for primetime when the season started. While I agree the coach doesn’t score goals or make defensive plays someone will have to take the fall.

    AV will be remembered as a good coach but was no Scotty Bowman by any stretch.

  • Isn’t the real problem Kevin Hayes doesn’t appear to be skilled enough to play 2C and not tough enough to play 3C. I vote trade Krieder for RNH and move Hayes to wing.

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