GM: Justin Haines (3rd GM in team’s history)
Coach John Tortorella
Last season: 12th overall, (In playoffs, defeated Munich, lost to Paris in Round 2)
Ins and Outs (Season 6 to Season 7)
Out: T.J. Oshie (free agent); Vadim Shipachyov (trade); Staffan Kronwall (trade); Scott Hartnell (free agent), Tomas Vincour (trade); Ian White (free agent); Jack Hillen (free agent)
In: Logan Couture (trade), Loui Eriksson (trade), Alexander Edler (trade), Mark Giordano (free agent), Patrick Marleau (free agent), Michael Frolik (free agent), Thomas Greiss (free agent), Dennis Seidenberg (free agent), Andrei Markov (free agent), Thomas Kuhnhackl (free agent), Ben Smith (waivers), Noah Juulsen (draft), Alexey Marchenko (draft) Jeremy Bracco (draft)
In Place (Key players signed past Season 7)
Anze Kopitar, C; Loui Eriksson, RW; Logan Couture, C; Andrew Ladd, LW; Alex Goligoski, D
1. How does the brand new look in Athens, umm, look? New GM Justin Haines has already remade the franchise in many ways, beginning with a name change. Formerly known as the Greeks, the team has been promoted to the status of Gods. Accompanying the name change is a large turnover in personnel. Haines hired Greek national team assistant coach Panagiotis Efkarpidis to assist coach John Tortorella behind the bench and instructed team trainers to reward players with baklava after good games, all in an effort to inject more Greek culture and endear the team to Athens fans who are still dealing with financial chaos in the country. But bigger yet is the makeover done to the skaters. The team got more experienced in the moves made during the off season. Haines saw cap space available and moved quickly to fill it with top talent. Young guns Staffan Kronwall and Vadim Shipachyov were moved to Berlin in a trade that brought in Logan Couture, Alexander Edler and Loui Eriksson. Andrei Markov and Mark Giordano head a list of seven free agents signed for Season 7 and the result is a whole new lineup for Gods fans. The players Haines acquired via trade were all fairly expensive, but he did a great job in free agency and is still comfortably below the salary cap.
2. Any statistics of concern? Yes. But first, look at what’s not of concern: the powerplay. No team in the league has had more powerplay success than the Gods have had through 14 games of Season 7. They are clicking at an incomprehensible rate of 32.6 percent. Four good shooting defensemen, led by Alexander Edler, are a key to their success. Up front, Torts is playing Brandon Sutter on a wing with former Smurfs Logan Couture and Loui Eriksson, while Anze Kopitar orchestrates the offense on the second unit. The Gods’ powerplay is in very good hands. The only real statistic of concern is in the number of shots that Athens is getting and giving up each game. Their average for both are going in the wrong directions. Athens fans are used to their team pressuring the opposing net, but their 31.36 shots per game average would be a five-year low; and their 29.93 shots against average would be a five-year high. But the end result has been positive. After four seasons of scoring more goals than they gave up, Athens were uncomfortably in minus territory last season. This season, however, due mainly to the powerplay, they are scoring 0.7 more goals per game than they are allowing.
3. How good are they on offense? Athens has mostly new line combinations this year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any built-in chemistry. Anze Kopitar and Andrew Ladd have been together since their Moscow days and they are currently skating with Jason Pominville on the wing. Former Smurfs Logan Couture and Loui Eriksson are playing with well-traveled Patrick Marleau on their left wing. To put things into perspective, consider that the top line has 9 all-star game appearances in their past, including 4 each for Kopitar and Pominville. The second line has 7 all-star game appearances in them – 4 for Eriksson and 3 for Couture. The third line of Brandon Sutter between Erik Condra and Michael Frolik is a premier checking line and fourth-line center Bobby Butler has a history of scoring timely goals for Athens. The forward corps seems to be thoughtfully constructed and should be good enough to carry them at least a round or two into the playoffs. The defense corps is very, very experienced and with good offensive ability, capable of getting the puck to the forwards in good positions often.
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 6 12 89 20.2 81.6 32.46 28.78 3.18 3.24 8.22
Season 5 7 102 21.8 83.2 32.76 28.89 3.74 3.15 9.74
Season 4 4 107 21.4 85.3 31.91 29.00 3.62 2.72 11.50
Season 3 6 100 20.7 85.4 33.82 27.72 3.72 3.00 13.16
Season 2 9 97 20.5 82.2 30.07 29.89 3.52 3.17 12.48
Season 1 20 63 16.4 76.7 28.20 31.60 2.54 3.61 9.77
Top Draft picks
Season 1: Ryan O’Reilly, C, current age 26. Games played: 462; points: 390; +93
Season 2: Staffan Kronwall, D, age 23. GP 396, Pts 158, +59
Season 3: Samuel Morin, D, age 22.
Season 4: Artturi Lehkonen, LW, age 22.
Season 5: Miks Indrasis, LW, age 21. GP 18, Pts 8, +6
Season 6: Tanner Pearson, LW, age 23. GP 7, Pts 1, -2
Season 7: Noah Juulsen, D, age 19.
Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)
Traded Round 9 pick (used to draft Nick Foligno) to Geneva for Round 13 pick (Marcus Kruger) and Round 14 pick (Mark Scheifele)
Traded Round 15 pick (Stefan Elliott) to Minsk for Matt Cullen
Traded Evander Kane and Alexander Sulzer to Dublin for Scott Hartnell, Tim Gleason, 2013 Round 1 pick (traded later) (Nail Yakupov), Round 2015 Round 1 pick (traded later) (Matt Nieto) and $5 million
Traded Tomas Vokoun to Madrid for Michal Neuvirth, Nick Johnson and 2013 Round 1 pick (traded later) (Martin Ruzicka)
Traded 2013 Round 3 pick (Magnus Johansson) to Milan for Brad Boyes
Traded Michal Rozsival and 2014 Round 1 pick (Justin Schultz) to Prague for Nick Kronwall
Traded Nazem Kadri and Round 2 pick (lost track of this one; might have been Brendan Pirlini in 2014) to Belfast for 2013 Round 1 pick (Vadim Shipachyov)
Traded Nathan Horton and 2014 Round 2 pick (Brian Flynn) to Berlin for Miikka Kiprusoff
Traded Miikka Kiprusoff and Michal Neuvirth to Stockholm for Cam Ward
Traded Marcel Hossa to Prague for Michael Ryder
Traded Jared Spurgeon and Nick Johnson to Prague for Michal Rozsival and Kyle Palmieri
* seem to missing 3 trades that occurred in this general period.
Traded Mark Scheifele to Prague for Joel Armia
Traded Johnny Boychuk to Milan for Dimitrios Kalyvas
Traded Brooks Orpik, Bryan Bickell and 2017 Round 1 pick (Ivan Provorov) to Copenhagen for Alex Goligoski
Traded David Backes, Kyle Palmieri and a 2018 Round 1 pick to Moscow for Andrew Ladd, Jaroslav Halak, Brandon Sutter and a 2018 Round 2 pick
After Season 6 started:
Traded Ryan O’Reilly to Moscow for Anze Kopitar
Signed Christian Folin (free agent), Jack Hillen (free agent)
Lost Mike Indrasis (waivers)
Traded Vadim Shipachyov, Staffan Kronwall and Tomas Vincour to Berlin for Logan Couture, Alexander Edler, Loui Eriksson and 2021 Round 2 pick
Lost Trevor Daley (waivers)