The LA Kings should offer Andreas Athanasiou an extension

LA KIngs (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA KIngs (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Originally brought in to be a one-year bridge to the prospects, Athanasiou may have found a long-term home with the LA Kings.

The LA Kings went into this past off-season with a lot of cap space available. Many felt the team would and should go “big game hunting,” with the likes of Alex Pietrangelo, Torey Krug, and Taylor Hall available as unrestricted free agents.

Instead, Rob Blake and company came away with winger Andreas Athanasiou on a one-year, $1.2 million low-risk, high reward contract. If the former 30-goal scorer regained his scoring touch, then the LA Kings had a nice redemption story, and if he did not, oh well – he would be a free agent after the season was over anyway. Either way, with many not expecting the Kings to contend for a playoff spot this season, Athanasiou was expected to be flipped at the trade deadline for future assets.

While an April 12th (or before) trade of Athanasiou is still possible, it is becoming increasingly unlikely. Although they still have five weeks to determine if they will be “buyers” or “sellers,” the LA Kings find themselves contending for a playoff spot, and if they are to make a serious push, they’re going to need the player fans have dubbed “AA.”

Even if Andreas Athanasiou remains with the LA Kings after the trade deadline, he is still a free agent at the end of this season. The question now becomes, should the team give Athanasiou a contract extension?

In a word – yes.

It is important to understand that Athanasiou is a restricted free agent after this season with arbitration rights (per Cap Friendly). If the Kings do not offer him a contract, he will then become an unrestricted free agent. Even with the arbitration rights, if the Kings offer Athanasiou a contract, they will still have to leverage in negotiations as he will be a restricted free agent.

Going into this offseason, the LA Kings once again find themselves with over $20M in cap space and only one other unrestricted free agent in Alex Iafallo – although the team does have several RFA’s to re-sign. The Kings should use some of that cap space to bring Athanasiou back, as even though they will want to work more prospects into the lineup, the team will still need experienced veterans to guide the younger players.

Athanasiou seems to be a great fit for Coach Todd McLellan’s system, and his speed and versatility allow him to play up and down the lineup. In a perfect world, Rob Blake gets Athanasiou to re-sign for three seasons in the $2.5-$3M AAV range.

One other thing the LA Kings must consider when it comes to re-signing Athanasiou is the expansion draft that will be taking place this summer. If they were to re-sign him, that means another player that would have been previously protected will now be exposed.

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Management has, of course, been tight-lipped about what their plans are for the expansion draft, but judging from his play this season, Andreas Athanasiou is not only worth a contract extension. He is also worth protecting in the expansion draft.