It started during training camp and has continued through the first month of the regular season. The Detroit Red Wings organization continues to clean the dust on the top shelf of their roster. You know, ridding themselves of the players that have seen better days.
As training camp opened, players became a bit skeptical, maybe uneasy because they just weren’t sure what their new general manager Steve Yzerman would expect of them. Yzerman, so calm, cool, and collected, paced through the arena introducing himself as Steve shaking all his players’ hands. The players understood with this new regime in the Detroit Red Wings front office, production, and production alone will be the only thing that guarantee’s them a roster spot.
Just ask Jonathan Ericsson. Ericsson never lived up to his size. Without appearing in a single game this season, Yzerman decided to place the Swedish defenseman on waivers. He’d been sidelined with an injury described as ‘general pain,’ meaning we are putting you on IR, so you don’t take up a roster spot until we decide what to do.
Yzerman made the move that the loyal Ken Holland was very reluctant to do, place him on waivers. A move that should have been made a few years ago. There is no trade market for a 7th or 8th defenseman making $4.25 million even if he’s in the final year of his deal. I will say one thing about loyalty, Steve Yzerman may not be as loyal as Ken Holland, but he will undoubtedly be loyal to some as his time wears on as the Wings GM. The expectation is he won’t be as loyal as Holland was–nobody is.
This causes me to wonder. Perhaps, forward Justin Abdelkader is next up on Steve’s chopping block?
The forward went 60 or so games last season between goals. The former top-nine forward posted career numbers playing alongside the great Pavel Datsyuk. If you are reading this, I’m convinced you could record points in the NHL playing on a line with Pavel during his prime.
Abdelkader has been a minus player over each of his last four seasons. That may not be such a critical statistic as it once was in today’s game, but it’s another indication of what playing with a great player can do. It doesn’t just inflate an average player’s stats; it can also boost their analytics. I mean Abdelkader’s Corsi For Percentage has settled in at 51.2% or about league average. So far this season, it’s 48.2% and dropping.
Last year Justin recorded 6 goals totaling 19 points. He’s taken on a leadership role wearing an ‘A’ on his sweater, but that won’t save him as it would have with Holland at the reins. Yzerman wants results; he has an agenda, and if you can prove you are valuable in some way or another to this team, you will stay. The ‘A’ is an honor, but there are plenty of other players on the Detroit Red Wings such as Valtteri Filppula who are more than capable of stepping into that role filling the void if Abdelkader is moved.
On the season, Justin has 3 assists in his first 10 games, averaging 13:09 TOI per game as he nears his 33rd birthday. With four years left at 4.25 million per season, I, for one, don’t expect Abby to finish that contract in Detroit. If Detroit is unable to find a trade partner, the veteran forward could find himself in Grand Rapids playing alongside Jonathan Ericsson once again.