When the London Knights officially parted ways with skilled winger Andreas Athanasiou on Friday — trading him to the Barrie Colts for three picks, one of which is conditional — another name was crossed off the club’s notable 2010 draft class list.
London’s turn-of-the-decade draft day haul consisted of 19 players — the most in the Hunter era, which began in 2000. Eight players from the 2010 crop have played at least one game in a Knights uniform.
Now only five — Chris Tierney, Matt and Ryan Rupert, Brett Welychka, and Kevin Raine — remain on the roster, with Athanasiou joining Troy Donnay and Chase Hatcher as former members of the Green and Gold.
Athanasiou, an 18-year-old Detroit Red Wings prospect, says he’ll be “starting fresh” in Barrie.
“He’s a Hall-of-Famer,” Athanasiou said, matter-of-factly, when asked about Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuck, owner of 1,409 NHL points. “He’s going to have a lot to offer to me. He’s a very smart hockey person.”
Like Donnay and Hatcher before him, the newest Colt is expected to receive more playing time with his new team.
Seeing more ice may be exactly what the slick skater needs in order to have a breakout campaign, and potentially become an OHL star.
It could awaken the giant, so to speak.
“If he dials in, works with Hawerchuk, realizes he has a little work to do and does it, he could be in the top 30 in league scoring,” Sean Lafortune, director of scouting for TheScout.ca, said.
“He’s got the talent.”
Athanasiou met his main off-season goal of bulking up by putting on eight pounds of muscle. At Barrie’s training camp fitness tests, he hopes to tip the scales at 187 pounds. The 110th overall selection at the 2012 NHL draft grew an inch, too, currently standing at 6-foot-2.
Lafortune, a veteran observer of not only the OHL but also the province’s minor midget circuit, has seen the Woodbridge, Ont., native in action since his Toronto Titans days. He says the keys for Athanasiou moving forward are to utilize and become more aware of his linemates, as well as work on his positioning.
It’s a wing thing
Knights have picked up three wingers in off-season to help replace Athanasiou:
- Jack Nevins, 18, from Kingston Frontenacs via trade on Aug. 9
- Adam Restoule, 19, from Sudbury Wolves via trade on June 27
- Michael McCarron, 17, from Belleville Bulls via trade on June 27
*This post also appears in Metro London’s Aug. 27 print edition