DETROIT – The Red Wings are likely done with roster moves for the summer after signing their own restricted free agent Justin Abdelkader on Friday.
The Michigan native signed a four-year deal to remain with the Wings, who now have 16 NHL forwards under contract. He became a restricted free agent on July 1 and could have filed for arbitration. However, Abdelkader was confident that a deal could be struck without the services of an arbiter.
Abdelkader has proven to be a multi-purpose forward and a physical presence as a third and fourth line center or winger. The 6-foot-1 forward played in a career-high 81 games last season, posting career-bests for goals (8), assists (14) and points (22).
He led the team with six fighting majors, finished second on the team with 148 hits and won 52.9 percent of his faceoffs. In just over three NHL seasons, Abdelkader has played in 209 career games, registering 47 points (18-29-47), 493 hits and 160 PIM.
Abdelkader burst onto the Wings’ scene two years after leading Michigan State to a thrilling NCAA national championship by scoring the game-winner with seconds left in the title game against Boston College. He showed the same kind of tenacity and purpose during his first Stanley Cup finals, scoring goals in Game 1 and Game 2 wins over Pittsburgh in 2009.
Abdelkader spent the majority of his first pro seasons in the American Hockey League with the Griffins. In 2008-09, he appeared in 76 games for Grand Rapids, finishing second on the team with 52 points and leading them with 102 penalty minutes. His 24 goals tied for third among AHL rookies and was a finalist for the AHL’s rookie of the year award. In 2009-10, he was named an assistant captain and skated in 33 games with the Griffins, producing 24 points.
Born and raised in Muskegon, Abdelkader was named Mr. Hockey in 2004 by the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association following his junior season at Muskegon Mona Shores High School. He left Mona Shores prior to his senior year in order to play in the USHL with Cedar Rapids where he led the RoughRiders to a Clark Cup championship in 2004-05.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose