Agent claims AA ready to play in KHL
September 5, 2017, 7:52 PM ET [4 Comments]
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As the Detroit Red Wings cut the ribbon to officially open Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday, the possibility that they could be cutting ties with a key element of the team that will play in their new rink grew more possible.
In their boldest statement to date, the members of the Andreas Athanasiou camp made public the reality that their client will be playing in the KHL this season.
Darren Dreger, NHL insider for TSN and one of the most well-connected media sources in the league, tweeted: “Andreas Athanasiou in ongoing discussions with KHL teams. Unless something shifts in Detroit, indications are Athanasiou will jump to KHL.”
Darren Ferris, Athanasiou’s agent, was the first to dangle the KHL possibility as an option for his client a couple of weeks ago. But at the time, it all seemed like nothing more than posturing during negotiations to get Wings GM Ken Holland to move his price point in contract talks with restricted free agent Athanasiou. But Russian player agent Shumi Babaev, who claims to represent Athanasiou in his KHL negotiations, upped the ante Tuesday with a post on Instagram:
“I represent Athanasiou in Russia, we are currently considering different options, but we can say that with a high probability Andreas will continue his career in the KHL and he is ready to go to Russia,” Babaev wrote.
Athanasiou has been linked with more than one KHL club, with Ak Bars Kazan believed to be the frontrunner. And Babaev also suggested that former Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, who plays for St. Petersburg, has become involved in the situation, advising Athanasiou about life in the KHL.
Babaev played coy regarding potential landing spot for Athanasiou in the KHL.
“Will this be Ak Bars, as they write?” Babaev asked rhetorically. “I can not confirm or disprove this information, but now Athanasiou is only studying the options, collecting information about the cities, including consulting with Pavel Datsyuk, who is familiar with the joint performances for Detroit.
“Athanasiou is a player of such caliber that he will find a place in any case.”
This all could still be posturing, but as the days pass and the impasse between the Wings and Athanasiou shows no signs of breaking, the chance that he bolts to Russia grows more possible. And that has to give Holland sleepless nights, although he’s the one who’s painted himself into this corner by overpaying on previous contracts to bottom six forwards like Darren Helm and Luke Glendening.
The 23-year-old forward was second on the Wings last season with 18 goals. But with the team already about $3 million over the salary cap for next season, paying Athanasiou more money might not be a realistic option for the Wings, especially considering they must get the names of young forwards and previous first-round draft picks Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha affixed to new pacts next season.
It’s a sad, sad situation. And every day, it grows more and more absurd.