Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader enters the 2019-20 NHL Season officially on notice.
After a career worst 19 points (six goals) during 2018-19, he’s been a prime candidate for fans who would rather see the rest of his large contract bought out rather than continuing a less-than-stellar point pace.
Going into his 11th season, he knows he must be better.
“It was frustrating, just frustrating for sure,” Abdelkader said Tuesday. “In this league there are nights you can go out and feel good about how you played and you’ve had (offensive) chances, but if you’re not contributing offensively and you don’t have those points and continue to look and have zeroes on the scorecard that build up … your confidence can take a hit.”
Former general manager Ken Holland caught plenty of flack from fans for inking Abdelkader to a 7-year contract, with a salary cap hit of $4.25 million a season that expires in 2023.
He began his summer workouts earlier than he had in the past in an effort to get a head-start on a bounce-back season.
“You constantly, consistently have to prove yourself in this league, it’s an every-day league,” Abdelkader said. “When you have a down year by your standards, or by whatever standards, you make sure to refocus that much more. I still think I have a lot of game in me. As long as you’re healthy, and I’m healthy, I still have a lot to give and play in this league.
“I still think I can contribute and be a player that this team can count on.”