The second Pavel Datsyuk decided to return home to play in the KHL; the wheels fell off for Justin Abdelkader. Have you ever wondered what playing with an elite talent looks like? Just use Justin as the prime example.
Abdelkader regularly played alongside Datsyuk for the first half of his career. What a luxury it is to play on a line with a future Hall of Famer. It was Abdelkader’s success with Datsyuk that earned him a lucrative long-term contract extension from Ken Holland.
It was a time when power forward’s excelled in the NHL. Abdelkader had a bit of nasty to his game, along with having the ability to chip in on the scoreboard. He did all the dirty work playing with Pavel. He’d rattle the boards with a thunderous check, force a turn over during a vigorous forecheck, and head to the front of the net, hoping to cash in on a juicy rebound. Or just watch the Magic Man make a silky-smooth play drawing all the defenders to him, leaving others wide-open to find the back of a gaping net after receiving a ridiculous pass. Abdelkader often the recipient of the pass.
Holland rewarded Abdelkader with an outrageous seven-year deal after he’d posted back to back 40-plus point seasons. The contract carries a cap hit of $4.25 million with three years left on the deal. Yes, if you are wondering, it does have one of those famous Ken Holland no-trade clauses attached to it.
The fact is, no team is interested in adding a fringe fourth-line player that’s paid like a top-nine scoring forward. Abdelkader’s NHL days are numbered, with Yzerman unlikely able to trade him, he’s likely to be placed on waivers this summer with his next stop being in Grand Rapids until he decides to call it a career.
During his 13-year Detroit Red Wings career, Abdelkader has amassed 252 points, including 106 goals in 739 games played.
The 33-year-old Michigan native is averaging just a touch over 11 minutes this season in 49 games. He’s failed to score a goal, this after scoring only six last season. He’s recorded three assists and owns a Corsi For Percentage of just 42.1 percent. Yikes. His time in Detroit is all but done.