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Fantasy Spin: Abdelkader can help with hits, points

by Pete Jensen

The Detroit Red Wings still have their share of injuries, but the return of center Pavel Datsyuk on Thursday is sure to provide some sense of relief.

But for wing Justin Abdelkader, it's all about keeping the ball rolling.

With three goals over his past two games, the 26-year-old has benefited from playing alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist on Detroit's top line. Abdelkader's linemates have assisted on two of those three goals, providing an ailing team with much-needed offensive continuity.

Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader can provide fantasy owners with assistance in the hits category with some potential for points down the road. (Photo: Getty Images)

From a fantasy standpoint, Abdelkader can be of assistance to owners in hits leagues; his 143 rank 20th among forwards. Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo Fantasy leagues, Abdelkader is a dual-eligible (LW/RW) waiver candidate who carries potential moving forward in deep leagues, especially if he continues to play alongside Zetterberg and/or Datsyuk.

Detroit has two games remaining before the NHL breaks for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and their morning skate lines Thursday indicated more of the same as far as short-term line combinations. The top line is expected to remain intact, and the Red Wings will take a wait-and-see approach regarding Datsyuk, who injured his knee injury in early January.

Coming into the season, the Red Wings had a much more crowded forward arsenal with Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss in the equation. But with each sidelined, the opportunity is there for Abdelkader to continue to develop.

One downside is that Abdelkader sees minimal power-play time (0:54 PP TOI per game, 2 PPP), but, then again, the waiver wire is not the place to find a six-category fantasy contributor. On the bright side, he does contribute points (22 in 51 games) and shots on goal (118) in addition to hits for a team that is still in the thick of the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

At the least, Abdelkader can be a short-term fix to your lineup to get in some extra production leading up to the break. At most, he could be a complementary piece to Zetterberg and/or Datsyuk, each of whom are top 20 overall fantasy assets when healthy.


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