Justin Abdelkader
Justin Abdelkader
32-Year-Old Left WingLW
Detroit Red Wings
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Abdelkader has drawn the ire of Wings fans for his albatross contract; seven years with an AAV of $4.25 million -- a deal he reached in Nov. 2015 -- looks like a heist compared to his near 30-point average and cumulative minus-61 rating over the last four seasons. And even with living legend Steve Yzerman succeeding Ken Holland as the general manager, there are no immediate plans for the Original Six club to buy out Abdelkader's contract, as such a move would require an eight-year payout plan, and the physical winger still brings his fair share of intangibles on and off the ice. Expect the Michigan native to cover the most ground with hits considering he's averaged around 137 of those per campaign through 12 years of service time with the parent club. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a seven-year, $29.75 million contract with Detroit in November of 2015.
Finally lands on scoresheet
LWDetroit Red Wings
October 12, 2019
Abdelkader emerged with a pair of assists in Saturday's 5-2 home loss to the Maple Leafs.
You would have to rewind the tapes to Feb. 24, 2019 -- Detroit versus San Jose -- to see the last time Abdelkader whipped up a two-point outing. All of the offense from the Wings came from the bottom-six group in this latest contest, with Abby dishing to Jacob de la Rose and Darren Helm. We'll have to see a whole lot more from the veteran winger to trust him, and that even applies to some of the deeper league formats.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Abdelkader is invaluable to the Red Wings but that's to be expected from a forward making $4.25 million annually on a seven-year deal. Last season, the pesky veteran accumulated 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) -- including four goals and five helpers on the man advantage -- plus he tacked on 78 PIM, 174 hits and 40 blocked shots to complete the two-way profile. Still, there's reason not to break the bank on Abdelkader in shallow fantasy pools. The Michigan native's ice-time average has dipped for two consecutive seasons (down to 16:33 in 2017-18), and his Corsi For possession numbers sat beneath the 50.0 benchmark in two of the three years that Detroit's been without world-class two-way pivot Pavel Datsyuk and celebrated bench boss Mike Babcock. Abdelkader is a better “real life” contributor than he is a fantasy asset, so consider drafting him as a high-floor/low-ceiling type.
Abdelkader is pulling in nearly $52,000 per game as one of Detroit's premier wingers, but the club is still looking for a reasonable return on this hefty investment. The Michigan native is versatile, boasts an all-encompassing skill set, and backs down from no one -- trouble is, he's struggled to adapt to the Xs and Os drawn up by coach Jeff Blashill, who took the post from legendary bench boss Mike Babcock ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. Abdelkader's skated to a cumulative minus-36 rating in the two seasons since then, though his overall output this past year -- seven goals and 14 helpers -- could've looked much better had it not been for the team accumulating an astounding 307 man games lost. Detroit's overall struggles last season will undoubtedly leave Abdelkader at a discounted price in fantasy drafts, so consider scooping him up as a depth forward.
Abdelkader shocked the masses when he signed a seven-year, $29.75 million contract last November. Before that mega deal, the Michigan native had only averaged a third of a point per game over eight seasons, and despite his insertion on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Dylan Larkin, he struggled with consistency on the way to a career-worst minus-16 rating in 2015-16. Still, there’s more pizzazz to Abdelkader’s game than scoring. He’s also a pesky line defender utilized on the power play and penalty kill. You won’t see him back down from a scrum, either, as he finished with the seventh-most penalty minutes (120) in the league last season. Injuries to his knee and finger prevented the winger from doing much in the playoffs – Abdelkader went minus-3 with a single goal against the Lightning in five games before the Wings were eliminated – but he’s expected to be fine for the upcoming campaign. With Larkin getting so much attention in Detroit, Abdelkader could get overlooked in fantasy leagues this season; don’t let him slip too far.
Abdelkader previously made his mark with the Red Wings as a flexible winger capable of doling out hits, chipping in secondary scoring, and jumping in on special teams, but this past season, he rebranded himself as a legitimate scoring threat, hitting the 20-goal and 40-point mark for the first time in his career. Skating in a top-six role, the 6-foot-2 forward also set career marks in a number of other categories, including power-play goals (eight), shots on goal (154), and PIM (72). The breakout should be enough for Abdelkader to hang on to a spot on one of the Wings' top two lines and man-advantage units, despite the offseason additions of Mike Green and Brad Richards. If the new offensive heights he reached prove difficult to sustain, Abdelkader's well-rounded production in the non-scoring categories should make him a productive member of just about any fantasy roster.
Abdelkader provided a surprising amount of offense to go with his pesky play, recording 28 points in 70 games. He spent some time on the top line keeping opponents off of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, and may see some time in a similar role this upcoming season. He should put up similar numbers to last season, should he remain with the big two; a demotion will see his point totals fall significantly.
Abdelkader found a solid role on the Red Wings in 2012-13, keeping people off linemate Pavel Datsyuk and chipping in with occasional points. If he remains on the first line this season, he could settle into a Tomas Holmstrom-like niche with Detroit. While Abdelkader hasn't scored much in the NHL, keep an eye on him early in the year and he could be a nice sleeper off the waiver wire.
Abdelkader continues to increase his value as a depth-line role player for the Wings, punishing the opposition with his pesky play and earning time as part of the team's penalty-killing unit. With 148 hits last season, Abdelkader ranked second only to Brad Stuart (177) on the Wings in that category while picking up 22 points (8 G, 14 A) over 81 games. There's belief that another layer of offensive upside exists, but that would require a move onto a scoring line, and it appears more likely that he'll end up skating with Darren Helm on the third line or centering the likes of Drew Miller and Jordan Tootoo on the fourth unit than moving up to receive additional minutes at even strength.
On a team with plenty of star power, the gritty Abdelkader is emerging as a strong checking-line option. As the 19 points he delivered last season suggest, there's not an overwhelming offensive upside to get excited about in his current role, but in many ways Abdelkader has become part of the team's New Age Grind Line now that the likes of Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper have retired. Abdelkader projects to serve in a third- or fourth-line winger role with special teams work coming as one of head coach Mike Babcock's penalty killers this season.
Perhaps the player most impacted by the Wings' decision to sign veteran pivot Mike Modano, Abdelkader will have to battle Darren Helm for playing time if he's going to remain a center this season, but he could see time on the wing depending on how head coach Mike Babcock elects to deploy Kris Draper. His six points in 50 regular season games last season are more a reflection of his role -- hitting opponents -- than of his skill set. Opportunity for consistent playing time in Detroit may be another full season away for Abdelkader, but he could easily find himself in a 12-14 minute role each night should any of the veterans ahead of him succumb to an injury.
A strong skater with good speed and a nice two-way game, Abdelkader may have to open up the season at Grand Rapids (AHL) following the team's addition of Bertuzzi and Williams through free agency this summer. Abdelkader scored his first NHL goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against Pittsburgh, after tallying 52 points - including 24 goals - in 76 games with the Griffins. His eventual role in Detroit figures to be centering the third line, where he could chip in several 40-45 point seasons, but the numbers game on the roster may put that opportunity on hold for at least one more season.
Abdelkader will likely spend most of the season at Grand Rapids (AHL), but he remains a good long-term fit in Detroit as a third-line winger, where his improving two-way game will provide excellent depth. He's a potential 20-goal scorer down the road, but that's probably the extent of his upside as far as fantasy owners are concerned.
Abdelkader gained valuable experience last season as he helped lead Michigan State to an NCAA title. Abdelkader will never be a 50-goal scorer in the NHL, but he takes care of his own end and he has the ability to help out on the score sheet. It's quite possible that once he reaches the NHL, Abdelkader won't provide enough offense to be a fantasy factor; however, he contributes in so many other aspects of the game that he is still a quality prospect for Detroit.
Abelkader will play out his sophomore year at Michigan State in 2006-07.
A 2005 draft pick who's expected to return to Michigan State for at least one more season.
More Fantasy News
Ready to go
LWDetroit Red Wings
September 25, 2019
Abdelkader (leg) will suit up against the Penguins on Wednesday, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com.
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Remains out of commission
LWDetroit Red Wings
September 21, 2019
Abdelkader (leg) will miss the next two preseason games despite practicing Saturday, Dana Wakiji of the Red Wings' official site reports.
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Cleared for camp
LWDetroit Red Wings
September 12, 2019
Abdelkader (leg) has been cleared to participate in Detroit's training camp, Dana Wakiji of the Red Wings' official site reports.
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Not buyout material
LWDetroit Red Wings
April 19, 2019
Abdelkader (leg) isn't in jeopardy of having his contract bought out, despite how the Red Wings have welcomed Steve Yzerman back to Detroit as the new general manager taking over for Ken Holland, Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press reports.
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Out for year
LWDetroit Red Wings
March 21, 2019
Abdelkader (leg) is out for the season due to a hairline fracture, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports.
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