Becoming more of a presence on the ice and in the locker room for the Detroit Red Wings, Justin Abdelkader didn’t have his best performance this past season.
Abdelkader broke out in 2014-15 when he scored a personal best 23 goals and totaled 43 points for the Wings in 71 games played. This season, he played in all 82 games of the regular season for Detroit and even though his point total from the previous season was very similar, his plus/minus was -16 and he totaled 120 penalty minutes.
Yes, Abby is the kind of guy who sees the box a lot, that’s just the kind of player he is, there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever.
It wasn’t a bad season by any stretch of the imagination, but Abdelkader knows he can be better and help the team out more.
“That’s what I try to pride myself on, go out there and do things that help the team. If you’re not producing offensively, no matter if you are or aren’t, you can help the team more.”
Abdelkader signed a 7-year, $29.75 million dollar contract last year, a contract that is evidence of the management viewing Abdelkader as a future leader for the Red Wings, one that should have a letter, whether it’s the ‘C’ or an ‘A’ stitched on his jersey soon.
The likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall are nearly the end of their NHL careers. It’s quickly becoming Abdelkader and the rest of the Red Wings’ youth that will look to carry the team into the future.
Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Danny DeKeyser and Xavier Ouellet are just a few examples of the young blood in Hockeytown that have tremendous talent and are going to be looked upon to produce consistently and effectively at the NHL level.
Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar both underachieved this past season, saw their ice time cut-down a little bit and need to prove something this coming season that their offensive games are still present.
The Red Wings qualified for the 25th consecutive time when it comes to making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a feat that is the most successful feat in all of professional sports in regards to Playoff contention.
Yes, the Wings made the Playoffs and it was great, but the issue was another first-round exit. It was their third straight first round exit, twice to the same team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. We all remember the pummeling that Abby gave Tampa Bay’s Michael Blunden in the Playoffs this past season.
Abdelkader knows how rich the tradition is in Hockeytown and going far into the Playoffs is what we expect in Hockeytown.
“It’s not easy to make the playoffs and on any given night any team can beat you. I think that’s still a good accomplishment for this group but we don’t want to be continually losing in the first round either.”
As mentioned before, there is plenty of young blood in Detroit, guys that do damage anytime they step out onto the ice. The frustration is present and rightfully so with how the Wings have found themselves out in the first round of the Playoffs the past 3 seasons.
Abby knows those guys can insert themselves right away and force the coaches to make a difficult decision on how they go about evaluating into a new season.
“I think we’ve got a lot of good young guys that are coming up through the system and that showed this year, that they could be impact players on this team. But anytime you lose in the first round like we have the last few years, there does need to be a shakeup.”
Whatever the ‘shake up’ may be, let’s hope it’s one that betters the Wings as a unit, a unit that sees Abdelkader as a strong presence whom contributes efficiently on a nightly basis.
What do you think, Nation, does Abby have the tools to be a guy the Wings can build the young core around?