There's absolutely nothing new about the idea the Detroit Red Wings could trade winger Andreas Athanasiou. In recent weeks, beat writers Ansar Khan and Max Bultman have written about the possibility.
It doesn't seem like a particularly wise move at the moment if Athanasiou's trade value is reflective of his performance this season. General Manager Steve Yzerman, you might remember, didn't trade winger Jonathan Drouin when he was struggling in the AHL. He called him up, built his trade value, and then shipped him off for Mikhail Sergachev - a top 10 pick of the Canadiens.
That seems like an Yzerman play with Athanasiou. Figure out a way to build his trade value and maximize the return.
But there are a few odd coincidences about the recent Athanasiou injury.
Athanasiou came out of the lineup before the Dec. 31 game against the Sharks, with coach Jeff Blashill saying he'd suffered a lower-body injury. It's Jan. 4 and the Red Wings have not placed Athanasiou on the injured reserve. That seems odd. Earlier this year, Athanasiou was placed on the IR for a very minor injury.
Secondly, Athanasiou played more than 20 minutes against Tampa on Dec. 29 - a night after he played nearly 22 minutes against Florida. Athanasiou had averaged 20:35 over his last three games - easily his busiest stint since he finished last year playing 19 minutes a night over the last 16 games (during which he posted 15 points).
Were the Red Wings auditioning Athanasiou?
Did they find a taker?
Athanasiou's injury kept his mother from joining the road trip. Could it be a trade is imminent and they wanted to avoid the awkwardness of trading Athanasiou while his mother joined him on the "Mom's Road Trip?" If so, expect news before the Red Wings return home for their game against the Canadiens Jan. 7.
There are several teams that could be seeking secondary offense on the Wing. The Pittsburgh Penguins, having lost Jake Guentzel for a long time, might be atop the list.