You would be forgiven if you’ve been ignoring the Detroit Red Wings and Andreas Athanasiou this season. The 25-year-old is having a poor year at the worst time before he reaches free agency this summer. The year is going poorly to the point where he could be one of Detroit’s trade chips when the February trade deadline approaches. However, some enterprising team should notice that Athanasiou is merely the victim of terrible luck this year.
Andreas Athanasiou is the Most Unlucky Player
Luck is always a tricky thing to discuss in sports. It often seems to remove the immense skill that these players possess. However, there is a bit of an argument that luck is affecting Athanasiou this year. Hockey Reference’s PDO stat, which is calculated based on a team’s save percentage added to its shooting percentage, rates Athanasiou as the unluckiest player of any to have played at least 10 games. His PDO is a dreadful 86.4. His poor defence is driving that value down as the team saves just 77.2 percent of shots when Athanasiou is skating.
Now you might think that Athanasiou would rate “luckier” if Detroit’s goalies weren’t among the worst in the NHL and you would be right. Many of the Red Wings’ regulars are below the traditional average of 100 but Athanasiou is lower than all of them. This would lead to the conclusion that he would benefit more than almost anyone from a trade to a stronger team.
A new team would be getting a player who has undeniable talent despite his 2019-20 struggles. Athanasiou still shoots the puck at a high rate and could finish this year with his second-most shots. He has five goals and 19 points in 36 games after starting the year injured. Teams might be hesitant to take a chance on someone with his numbers but it is important to note that his career shooting percentage is 12.1. Athanasiou would have roughly 10 goals if he was scoring at a similar rate this year.
How to “Fix” Athanasiou
There is no helping Athanasiou in Detroit. The team has too little talent either on the NHL roster or ready to debut this season. The best hope for Athanasiou to reverse his luck is a trade. Several contending teams either don’t need a forward for their middle-six or have the money to cover the remainder of his cap hit. However, there are one or two teams that could call about his services.
The Winnipeg Jets are certainly one possibility. They are not an especially impressive team but have a leading contender for the Vezina in Connor Hellebuyck. The team has also taken several injuries which have damaged their playoff chances. Athanasiou could slide next to Blake Wheeler on the second line and move Jack Roslovic down a line to reinforce the bottom-six. Winnipeg has a clear need for additional bodies in order to remain in the Central Division race.
Another team that might need Athanasiou is the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens are still in great shape in the Metropolitan Division but recently suffered yet another serious loss. Leading scorer Jake Guentzel recently went down with a shoulder injury and will miss most of the remaining regular season. This is a team already missing forwards Sidney Crosby and Nick Bjugstad. Another serious injury pushes their offence into even more unknown territory. Athanasiou would help a team in serious need of scoring pizzaz. Pittsburgh has a gritty supporting cast and has a history of notable trades during the Crosby era.
Someone certainly needs to give Andreas Athanasiou a chance to recover. His career scoring rate of .52 points-per-game is exactly what many teams like to have for their middle-six options. This year is almost lost but he has the talent to make an enterprising general manager look very smart in the near future.