Blackhawks re-sign Andreas Athanasiou to two-year contract

Athanasiou will carry a $4.25 million salary-cap hit, helping the Hawks creep closer to the cap floor and providing offensive support for expected No. 1 pick Connor Bedard.

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The Blackhawks re-signed Andreas Athanasiou on Wednesday.

The Blackhawks re-signed Andreas Athanasiou on Wednesday.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Blackhawks moved quickly to re-sign forward Andreas Athanasiou after his strong finish to the season.

On Wednesday, the Hawks brought back Athanasiou — who was headed for unrestricted free agency again — on a two-year contract with a $4.25 million salary-cap hit, according to a source.

The deal gives Athanasiou a nice raise (and extra security) over the one-year, $3 million contract he signed with the Hawks last summer. It also helps the Hawks creep closer to the cap floor — they’re still more than $15 million shy — and start building some offensive support for projected No. 1 pick Connor Bedard. All parties should be pleased.

Athanasiou, who will turn 29 in August, put together a solid 2022-23 season in a tough situation, catching fire down the stretch — notching 20 points in his last 24 games and 12 points in his last eight games — to finish with 20 goals and 20 assists in 81 games. It was the second-best offensive season of his career.

“Andreas worked out really well for us,” general manager Kyle Davidson said Thursday. “There was actually some nice chemistry with Lukas Reichel, which is not nothing — [I] really liked that. [I] liked his presence around the room; liked his play on the ice. He shows up every night. ... We had mutual interest in him coming back.”

He struggles at times defensively, but his skating is world-class and should complement Bedard well. If Bedard and Athanasiou start 2023-24 on the first line together, it will be interesting to see which one coach Luke Richardson chooses to play center. Athanasiou’s spring surge was sparked by a surprising move to center.

“Playing center . . . keeps him moving [and] keeps him thinking out there about what his responsibility is, not about the chance he just missed,” Richardson said in April.

Davidson is just getting started with offseason moves. He’s working from the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo, where the Hawks have been interviewing a massive group of upper-tier prospects all week.

Once the team’s focus shifts from scouting to free agency and trades, Davidson likely will bring in additional veteran forward support for Bedard and Reichel.

Max Domi — who signed alongside Athanasiou last summer and is represented by the same agent, Darren Ferris — is one strong possibility if he doesn’t re-sign with the Stars.

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