May 23, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader (8) checks Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) in the third period in game four of the second round for the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

My Buffalo Sabres Wish List, Part 13: Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings

It’s been a while since I have added an entry into my wish list series, so allow me to clarify the “rules” for anyone who has not read previous installments, or those who may have forgotten: for this series, I select one non-marquee player from each NHL team who I feel would be a solid addition to the Sabres’ roster.   Going after the superstars is too obvious and easy, as well as pure fantasy, which is why I dig a little deeper into each team’s roster to find 2nd or 3rd line players who could, theoretically, actually play in Buffalo someday.  Yeah, it’s still a bit of a fantasy – just not a delusional one!

Now that’s August, which is the worst month of the year if you’re a fan of the NHL, it’s time for me to resume looking at which players from other NHL teams I would seriously encourage the front office of the Buffalo Sabres to go after. Today I look at the Sabres’ new divisional foe: the Detroit Red Wings.

Justin Abdelkader, F

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Abdelkader was quite the nice surprise for Detroit in 2013-2014.  Drafted out of Michigan State University, where he won a national championship and was named both the 2007 NCAA Championship Tournament MVP and the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player, Abdelkader seemed destined for a career as a fourth- or third-line center.  With Detroit hit hard by injuries last season, however, Abdelkader spent most of his 48 regular-games playing on the left wing alongside Pavel Datsyuk.  The humanity!!!  His ten goals and three assists were mostly the result of doing the dirty work – forechecking, chasing down the puck, battling in front of the net – that allows a wizard like Datsyuk to get his freak on – and oh by the way, those ten goals would have tied him for third on the Sabres team last year.  Basically, he out-Folignoed Marcus Foligno,
Abdelkader is the kind of hard-nosed power forwards the Sabres desperately need.  At 6’1″ and 219 pounds, he weighs more than all but three of  the players on the entire Sabres roster, and boy does he use every inch and pound of his frame – sometimes a bit too aggressively, as he did when he launched himself into the Anaheim Ducks’ Toni Lyndman in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Even though I appreciate Abdelkader’s desire to be an imposing player on the ice, I wasn’t too fond of that hit.  Still, it’s not like Abdelkader is the first person to launch himself into an opponent.  If the NHL actually took these sorts of plays seriously – Abdelkader was suspended for one whole game, which is nowhere near enough – they could cleanse the league of this ridiculousness.  Still, that’s a whole different topic, one that I have already covered here at Sabre Noise.  I love how hard Abdelkader battles and works out on the ice, and I’m not alone: he was invited to try out for Team USA with the hopes that he will compete in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Name an American not named Ryan Miller who plays for the Sabres and was invited to tryout.  All righty then!  The Sabres could use Abdelkader desperately, which is why I would have him on my list of potential acquisitions if I were General Manager Darcy Regier.

Agree?  Disagree?  Just like to chat?  Leave your comments below, or keep me busy on Twitter @theamazingMrS!

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Detroit Red Wings Justin Abdelkader

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