Former Detroit Red Wing Justin Abdelkader has re-emerged in North American hockey. The Grand Rapids Griffins announced Friday that they have signed the 34-year-old forward to a pro tryout contract.
Abdelkader needs no introduction from us. He spent 13 years wearing the Winged Wheel, before that with the Griffins and Michigan State Spartans. The Red Wings cut ties with the Muskegon native in 2020 when Steve Yzerman bought out the remainder of his contract. He went on to play in Switzerland, where he won a national championship. Since then, he’s been absent from the pro hockey scene.
The Griffins are in need of bodies, and one could assume that Abdelkader is trying to stay in game shape should a certain national team in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics.
The Griffins host the Milwaukee Admirals Saturday night at Van Andel Arena. Abdelkader told WOOD TV8 sports director Jack Doles that he expects to suit up for that game. It will be broadcast locally in West Michigan on WXSP. Puck drop is set for 7pm.
Before everyone overreacts — don’t.
The Red Wings are paying Abdelkader for the next few years to not play hockey for them. There’s no path for him to join the Wings again. Should he stay in Grand Rapids for the rest of the season, he’d give them much-needed depth, especially with so many players in and out of the lineup due to COVID, and the NHL taxi squad.