The Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan headed to Detroit ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, with the Leafs practicing in Dallas while Koshan attended Detroit’s practice at LCA.
Koshan did so to ask Andreas Athanasiou about parallels between his contract holdout last season and the current situation of one William Nylander, who remains unsigned by Toronto:
“Everyone trains so well these days,” Athanasiou said on Wednesday. “It’s not easy coming into the season when haven’t had camp or game action, but you step into it right away. He will be back in a rhythm, I’m sure, after a couple of shifts.”
Of course, there must be the consideration that Nylander, perhaps, takes those couple of shifts with another team. The longer the impasse goes between the Leafs and agent Lewis Gross, it’s possible general manager Kyle Dubas looks more intently at a trade option, likely for a defenceman. Time remains on the side of the Leafs and Nylander, for now, as the deadline for the winger to be signed isn’t until Dec. 1.
Athanasiou said he never took the contract negotiations between his agent, Darren Ferris (who counts Mitch Marner among his clients) and Wings general manager Ken Holland personally, understanding that the at-times slow pace of talks were, as Athanasiou said, “part of the business.”
Athanasiou scored in his second game after signing and finished the 2017-18 season with 33 points (16 goals and 17 assists) in 71 games. This past July, the 24-year-old signed a two-year, $6-million contract.
While Athanasiou’s situation came to a conclusion that satisfied both sides, he can imagine what Nylander is experiencing.
“You always want to know what’s going on, and you’re just sitting there waiting,” Athanasiou said. “I was watching our games when I was over in Switzerland, and you’re trying to keep track of everything. Whenever a deal got done and I stepped on the ice, I was going to be ready. He has been playing hockey his whole life. He will be fine.”