Athanasiou is the lone player on Detroit's ledger without a contract, and negotiations between he and the organization this summer have yet to lead anywhere productive.
While considering leaving the NHL could simply be a move to apply pressure on general manager Ken Holland to get a deal done, losing Athanasiou would be a crucial loss to a Red Wings roster that lacks talent.
Athanasiou, just 23, is one of Detroit's top young players, and in 64 games with the club last season, he recorded 18 goals and 11 assists despite playing just over 13 minutes per night.
The situation further magnifies Detroit's cap problems, as the Red Wings are a projected $3.9 million over the limit, per CapFriendly. Even when Johan Franzen's cap hit is placed on LTIR, the club still has virtually no wiggle room without making a roster move.