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In nine regular season games for the Oilers, Athanasiou never found a line where he meshed. He ended up with just one goal sand one assist.
This was followed by him scoring no goals and no assists in the playoffs, where he did look OK on a checking line with Riley Sheahan, but failed to produce when promoted to play for two games with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto.
As for Toffoli, his game took off in Vancouver. He had 10 points in 10 regular season games. He’s followed that up with three points in two playoffs games. Toffoli suffered a foot injury in the first game of the play-in round and was out until Vancouver’s second game against Vegas, where he put up his three points.
In that game, he looked exactly like the kind of winger that might work well with Connor McDavid, a forward who doesn’t want or need the puck much, but knows how to quickly and adeptly shoot or pass it when the pucks hits his stick.
Is this to say that Ken Holland made a mistake in acquiring Athanasiou? No, it’s not.
We do know that Benning beat him out on acquiring Toffoli, but we don’t know why. Maybe the Kings really had a hankering to bring in Tyler Madden, for example, a kid who has ripped it up in two years of U.S. college hockey. Maybe that was the deal-maker for the Kings, and it would not have been enough to offer two second round picks for Toffoli.
It’s also the case that Toffoli as a UFA was more of a rental than Athanasiou, an RFA. It looks like Edmonton may not want to retain Athanasiou at $3.0 million per, not with the cap being flat and Athanasiou’s performance uninspiring here, but on the day the trade was made it was a reasonable expectation that Athanasiou would play well enough to earn that kind of contract and the deal was also made pre-pandemic, when it looked like the cap would be going up .