NHL Draft Prospect Profile #50: Andreas Athanasiou
Drafted 110th Overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
Last summer, it appeared as if the sky was the limit for Andreas Athanasiou. The London Knights player wowed the Scouts with a very impressive performance, helping to lead Canada to the Gold Medal at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament. He then went to the NHL’s summer Research and Development camp and showed off his skills and created an even bigger buzz. Athanasiou was being projected as a sure fire first round pick and even a potential top 10 pick. He raised the bar and many expected a true breakout season in the OHL. Unfortunately those expectations were never met, and Athanasiou had what must be called a disappointing year on an excellent London Knights squad, one that will play for the Memorial Cup on Sunday. He is joined on the squad by the previously profiled, Olli Maatta and a number of other draft eligible players.
Born Aug 6 1994 — Woodbridge, ONT
Height 6.01 — Weight 179 — Shoots Left
Athanasiou has tremendous skill. He is one of the fastest and best skaters in this draft. His top end speed is off the charts. He has great acceleration and agility, and can make pivots and change directions with ease. His edgework and balance are also exceptional. All of this makes him a very difficult player for defenders to handle off the rush.
Athanasiou also has incredible stickhandling ability. He has soft, quick hands and can make extremely creative dangles with ease. He has the ability to stick handle in a phone booth, and is a menace to goaltenders in the shootout. Athanasiou combines this with a hard, accurate shot, and quick release, which had NHL scouts salivating over his ability to be a high end goal scorer in the NHL. He also has decent vision and good passing skills. Its easy to see flashes of what made him so intriguing to scouts last summer.
So why is Athanasiou ranked 50th? He has two main issues. The first is consistency. There are nights when Athanasiou is dominant, where he looks like the top 10 pick that many talked about last summer. There are times he can go end to end at will, and he can be an unstoppable force. Unfortunately those nights are far to few, and far between. You never know which Athanasiou is going to show up, will it be the dynamic offensive force, or the floating winger?
On the nights when Athanasiou disappears, his issue is a lack of intensity. He doesn’t drive the net often enough. He sticks to the outside and takes a low percentage shot, instead of trying to make a play in traffic and risking getting hit. He can float and appears to be afraid of contact, almost going through the motions. There are nights where it seems like he is allergic to going to the front of the net, or to battling for a puck along the boards. This lack of intensity has not gone unnoticed by coaches as Athanasiou was even made a healthy scratch in a few of London’s playoff games.
Athanasiou is a serious boom or bust prospect. He has all the skills necessary to be a top line NHLer, but he lacks the consistency and intensity to do so. He will be a long term project and could require a lot of coaching going forward, but there is potential for a huge reward. His max ceiling is very high and we’d compare him to a player who could be a cross between Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders and Jussi Jokinen of the Carolina Hurricanes. Unfortunately for Athanasiou, the bust potential is also very, very high as well.
… and thats the Last Word.