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Red Wings mid-day news: on Abdelkader’s importance and Datsyuk the video game star

Via RedWingsFeed, MLive’s Brendan Savage provides a superb follow-up for those of you who may have wondered aloud whether the Wings really need to re-sign Justin Abdelkader, who the Free Press’s Helene St. James stated the Wings are working toward inking a new contract with, in the overnight report’s comment section.

Savage spoke to Ken Holland about Abdelkader’s importance to the team, and as far as Holland’s concerned, Abdelkader’s just as important to the present-day Wings as Kirk Maltby was to the Grind Line:

“He’s real important to our team,” Holland said. “Like Maltby and [Kris] Draper were in their day. He plays hard, he brings it every day, he provides an ingredient. He’s comfortable dropping his gloves. He can chip in some goals. Mike Babcock was using him on the penalty kill last season. Negotiations are ongoing. We’re going to get it done. We’re going to find something both sides feel good about.”

Abdelakder, 25, is a restricted free agent who made $825,000 last season during his third full campaign in the NHL.

Although he doesn’t put up big numbers – his eight goals, 14 assists and 62 penalty minutes in 81 games last season were all career highs – he brings size and strength to the Red Wings lineup thanks to his 6-foot-1, 219-pound frame. He finished last season playing on the third line with Darren Helm and Drew Miller. They gave the Red Wings several key goals down the regular-season stretch while keeping opposing defenders on their toes by going hard up and down the ice and crashing the net.

“He can play wing and play center, he’s big and strong, he plays hard,” Holland said. “Abby and Helm are really important on our bottom six forwards and for our team going forward, Abby is an important guy. He’s from Michigan. He played high school hockey in Michigan. I know he’s proud to be a Red Wing. He brings ingredients to our team.”

Abdelakder, a Muskegon native who played at Michigan State, also got some international experience this year after the Red Wings season ended in a first-round playoff loss to the Nashville Predators.

He was named to the U.S. team for the World Championships, appearing in all eight games for the Americans. He had one goal, three assists and a plus-4 rating while also being named the U.S. player of the game in a 5-3 victory over Belarus.

“We’re exchanging offers,” Holland said. “(It’s) two years before he becomes unrestricted. If they want to do a short-term (contract), we’ll do short term. If they want to do long term, we’ll talk on longer terms. We’ll get him done.”



Also of brief Red wings-related note this afternoon:

• According to Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy, Pavel Datsyuk and Sidney Crosby are the two highest-rated forwards in EA Sports’ NHL 13;

• And the Wings fired off two Tweets of note:



Update: And yes, I’ve had this on my calendar, and will cover it in the early morning hours on Wednesday as these stories hit at 3 AM EDT:



Update #2: For the record, the Sault Star’s Peter Ruicci believes that Ryan Sproul will be named the Soo Greyounds’ captain this season.

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he provides an ingredient.

Wow, what high praise!

Posted by Garth on 08/14/12 at 02:55 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

“Abby and Helm are really important on our bottom six forwards and for our team going forward”

I long for the days where our top 3 lines were grouped together and the fourth line was expected to create hell for the oppositions top unit.

Now we’re focused on creating two fourth lines. 

Sure hope that means that the organization has a pulse on what it means to win a cup in the NHL and that the rest of the league has yet to comprehend what kind of success two grinding units can produce.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 08/14/12 at 02:58 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

I long for the days where our top 3 lines were grouped together and the fourth line was expected to create hell for the oppositions top unit.

Same here. I got an engineering buddy working on a time machine, so as soon as that’s done we can hop in and jump to pre-cap days. Damn you parity.

I like Abby just fine, but apart from the Michigan native angle I don’t really see why he’s being considered so invaluable. He’s a solid 3rd/4th line grinder, but there are dozens of those in the league and plenty on this team even without him. He should not be in any position to play hardball in contract negotiations.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 08/14/12 at 03:19 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

I said last April that the Wings view Abdelkader as a core component of the future of their team, and Kenny confirms that.  He was a team best +15 on just 19 points in the 10-11 season.  Picture that, all the shifts he had and gave up just 4 goals all season when he was even strength.  After Stuart he was continually the best goalie among skaters and is typically in great position defensively.

As Nate (A) said, there are others around who could fill that role more or less, but I believe the Wings want him lifetime.  Thus the constant coupling of Abdelkader with franchise sponsored youth hockey camps and franchise sponsored events.

They could use him as a trade chip, but I doubt it.

Posted by RWBill from lead guitarist for The Pompous Dicks. on 08/14/12 at 03:41 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

What RWBill said. 

And, he’s developing into a “heart and soul of the team” type of guy, like Helm.  I hope they sign him long-term.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 08/14/12 at 04:22 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Same here. I got an engineering buddy working on a time machine, so as soon as that’s done we can hop in and jump to pre-cap days. Damn you parity.

Yeah, let me know how that works out, I’ve got my Beta deck warmed up and ready to go.

Every franchise has had its own way of dealing with the cap and managing its assets.  Some have been more successful at sustaining success by remaining playoff fixtures with each passing year since 2006.  Hopefully the Wings continue to be one of those teams.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 08/14/12 at 04:30 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Never really was a question about his value to the team.. it’s his contract value I dispute.  I don’t think his intangibles or stats dictate 2m a year just because that’s what Prust got.  We haven’t signed ANY F by those metrics of worth.  We always value them compared to other players on OUR team.  Compared to Helm, Abby is not worth a 2m cap hit.  “Best third line center in the league” isn’t worth the same on this team as a 4th line center/wing.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/14/12 at 06:34 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

2m for Abby is NOT a hometown discount

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/14/12 at 06:35 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.