Justin Abdelkader is a true example of a home-grown player. A Michigan native, attended Michigan State for three years, and drafted by the Detroit Red Wings. Does it get any better than that?
The Red Wings were hoping that Abdelkader would be a big part of the team’s future, and banked on that big time in 2015 when he was inked to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract extension.
However, after he scored 23 and then 19 goals during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 NHL Seasons, his play and offensive abilities have all but dried up, and he now provides very little utility for a team rife with younger players looking to take the next step at the NHL level. With only six goals during last season (including a 40 game drought), any physicality that he brings isn’t worth the massive drop-off in offensive production.
New Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman should consider Abdelkader to be a prime buyout candidate.
Yzerman took over as general manager from Ken Holland in late April, and has given Red Wings confidence that he will reverse Holland’s trend of extreme loyalty to players and holding on to them too long. We’ve seen him make several shrewd moves during his tenure as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, buying out fan favorite and former captain Vincent Lecavalier as well as defenseman Matt Carle.
NHL teams are able to buy out player contracts from June 15-30. An Abdelkader buyout would mean that he would be on the books for an additional eight years (for between $1.145 million-$2.395 million annually).
Abdelkader’s usefulness to the Red Wings has come and gone, and he’s not doing the team any favors by taking up a roster spot of a more deserving forward.