Detroit Red Wings general manager has a history of big daring moves. He did it during his time in Tampa Bay and put an eventual Stanley Cup Champion on the ice. Yzerman’s latest big move is daring, he has waived veteran forward Justin Abdelkader for the purpose of buying out the remainder of his contract.
Before the 2016-17 NHL season the Detroit Red Wings then general manager Ken Holland sign forward Justin Abdelkader to a massive $29.75 million dollar contract ($4.25 million dollar salary cap hit.)
Since that time Abdelkader has failed to live up to the contract. After scoring 23 in 2014-15 and 19 goals 2015-16 , Abdelkader never came close to those offensive totals again.
As one of the Red Wings alternate captains, Abdelkader played 49 games last season, getting three points (all assists), with a minus-14 rating. It is a move that needed to be made.
Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman made the bold move Tuesday afternoon. Knowing full well the buyout will count against the cap for six years: $1,805,556 in 2020-21, $2,305,556 in each of 2021-22 and 2022-23, and $1,055,556 in the following three seasons.
From a team stand point this is a bit of a blow. Many in and around both the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL say that Abdelkader is a great teammate and great in the locker room. On the ice was a different story.
Knowing Steve Yzerman’s history, it is safe to say that he is clearing a roster spot for a bigger move. This is a big year for the Red wings rebuild. The media knows, fan know it Yzerman surely knows it.
Just what that move will be is held by one person, the general manager. Yzerman has never made a big move and followed it up with a small move. He goes big then often goes bigger.
Perhaps something is brewing tonight during the 2020 NHL Draft. We shall see.
Embed from Getty Images In 2014-15 Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader scored 23 goals and had 44 points. His abrasive, physical play earned him the respect of his teammates and admiration of the Detroit Red Wings coach’s and front office. It rubbed opposing teams the wrong way. Those were the good old days.
In the 2015-16 season, Justin Abdelkader once again posted solid numbers recording 19 goals and notching 42 points for the Red Wings. These were the best offensive seasons of his career it also came with Pavel Datsyuk playing the majority of the time as his center.
The only issue (which at the time was not a big issue) was Justin had signed a seven year, $29.75 million dollar contract extension. Now it has become an albatross of a problem. This past season Abdelkader had gone 23 games without a goal and 12 games without a point.
Justin Abdelkader is a good penalty killer and grinding winger with one small problem. The Red Wings are paying out a lot of money for a guy who does not have the offensive ability he showed early in his career. Given his age, contract and declining numbers Justin Abdelkader is basically impossible to trade.
That leads us to waivers. Steve Yzerman and his Detroit Red Wings are serious about rebuilding the team this is a fact. Then a clear message needs to be sent and place Justin Abdelkader on waivers if he starts next season the same way he played this past year.
Every NHL team and all hockey teams need an Abdelkader type player on the fourth line. But absolutely not at $4.25 million per season, for a player who scores 6 goals and has multiple extended scoreless slumps during the season.
Detroit Red Wings, general manager Steve Yzerman was right to not buy Abdelkader’s contract out. That would have tightened the Wings salary cap. Waivers would send a strong message. Justin Abdelkader would clear waivers and be sent to Grand Rapids with only a $1.19 million cap hit. Opening a roster spot for one of Detroit’s top prospects like Filip Zadina.
Tyler Bertuzzi has taken Abdelkader’s spot as a tough, hard hitting, abrasive forward who is very capable of putting up solid offensive numbers.