Former Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader starting comeback

(Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
(Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports) /

There was a sigh of relief after the 2019-20 season when the Detroit Red Wings were able to rid the books of Justin Abdelkader’s contract. It was a remnant of the Ken Holland days where some questionable contracts were handed out.

Holland rewarded Abdelkader with a seven-year, $29.75 million contract extension following the 2014-15 season. This was Abdelkader’s best season, and from there, things only got worse and led to the Red Wings executing the buyout five seasons later.

Abdelkader was a shell of the player he was in the early 2010s by the end of his time with the Red Wings. At 32 years old, some thought his career would come to a halt. After the buyout from the Red Wings, Abdelkader chose to pursue opportunities overseas.

He would sign with a Swiss league team for the 2020-21 season, logging nine games with four goals and four assists for eight total points at the end of their regular season, playing 13 postseason games overseas with three goals and six assists for nine total points.

It’s hard to give up the sport you love, and Abdelkader has never let that dream die. Though a place with the Red Wings may not be in the cards, Abdelkader is surely trying to get back to the NHL ranks.

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader is aiming for a comeback.

Abdelkader has gone back to his roots. The Muskegon-native has agreed to a professional tryout contract (PTO) with the Grand Rapids Griffins. In the article linked above from Mlive, there are some comments from Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill talking about the move.

Based on Blashill’s comments, it seems like this was a courtesy gesture to allow Abdelkader to get back on the ice in North America. Also, allowing him to play some games near his hometown and possibly finish up his career on the West side of Michigan, where those dreams of the NHL were born.

Abdelkader aims to get back into the NHL and try to get another chance to play in the highest ranks here. The question is if teams will bite. First, Abdelkader needs to latch on with the Griffins and hold a spot on their roster as the 2021-22 season continues.

Looking at the Red Wings roster, it’s going to take some serious breakout and revival from Abdelkader to make them budge on a potential NHL contract. With players on the Injured Reserve (IR) and recent waiver claims, creating a roster spot in the NHL might get tricky.

But as Blashill sort of hinted towards, this may be an excellent opportunity for Abdelkader to play some games at home in front of his friends’ family and be in the place where it all started.

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If you ask Abdelkader, he’s gunning for another shot, so keep an eye on the Griffins over the next few weeks.