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Abdelkader named to AHL All-Rookie Team

by Randy Cleves / Detroit Red Wings
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Griffins center Justin Abdelkader has been named to the 2008-09 American Hockey League All-Rookie Team, the league announced on Wednesday.

Abdelkader, 22, currently ranks among the AHL’s top rookies with 22 goals (T5th) and 49 points (T6th) through 71 games, and he places among the Griffins’ leaders in points (2nd), power play goals (8, 2nd), penalty minutes (96, 2nd), goals (T2nd) and assists (27, T5th). His 22 goals tie for the most ever by a Grand Rapids rookie, while his 49 points are the second-most by a first-year Griffin, behind only Glen Metropolit’s 55 points in 1997-98.

The Muskegon, Mich., native and former Michigan State Spartan becomes only the second Griffin to be named to an AHL All-Rookie Team, following goaltender Jimmy Howard’s selection in 2005-06. This marks the season’s second significant AHL honor for Abdelkader, as he also received the Reebok Edge/AHL Rookie of the Month award for October.

Detroit’s second choice (42nd overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Abdelkader made his pro debut with the Red Wings last April then remained with the team as a “black ace” throughout its run to the Stanley Cup. He went scoreless in two games with the parent club earlier this season, giving him two PIM in four career NHL games.

Abdelkader will receive a custom-designed crystal award in recognition of his selection, and he becomes a top candidate for the AHL’s Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award (outstanding rookie), the winner of which will be announced on April 8.

The other members of the AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 29 member cities, are Portland forwards Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy, Abdelkader’s former MSU teammate; defensemen Mattias Karlsson (Binghamton) and Yannick Weber (Hamilton); and goaltender Nathan Lawson (Bridgeport).
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