Sportsnet’s Rory Boylen picked six players who may break out during the 2018-19 season, and one of his picks is a Red Wings player:
Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings
There is some speculation that the Red Wings could still trade Athanasiou before the start of next season as their group of forwards gets a little more crowded with the additions of Filip Zadina and Thomas Vanek. His explosive speed makes him exciting to watch and the offensive upside is still there — the question is whether Athanasiou’s defensive game will become strong enough that a coach can comfortably make him a top-six player.
In Athanasiou’s first two NHL seasons, his shooting percentages were 17 and 15, but that dropped to 9.4 in 2017-18 as he registered 16 goals. It’s fair to say that over a full season he should be at least a 20-goal scorer with the possibility for more.
Remember, too, that the 23-year-old missed training camp and the first 10 games in 2017 due to a contract dispute and that often leads to an underwhelming season. Now he’s locked in with a two-year, $6 million deal so should get off to a better start. On top of that, only three of his 33 points came on the power play despite averaging 1:44 PP minutes per game, so there could be an uptick there as well. The crux of Athanasiou’s breakout candidacy is in how much ice time the Red Wings (or an acquiring team) give him.
If his goals come up as expected, can his assists and ice time rise to a level that allows him to have a true breakout?
Continued, and I am also curious as to whether Athanasiou ends up playing consistent hockey for the Red Wings or another team.