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Agent: Ex-Red Wing Justin Abdelkader 'eager' to find new NHL team

Mark Falkner
The Detroit News

The agent for former Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said Abdelkader is still looking for "the right fit" with the National Hockey League season scheduled to start next week with five games on Wednesday.

The Red Wings open the 2020-21 season the following night at Little Caesars Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Justin Abdelkader

"Justin is eager to join a new NHL team," said Newport Sports Management agent Wade Arnott, who also represents Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser. "We're continuing to monitor NHL training camps."

Abdelkader, who was bought out by the Red Wings with three years remaining on a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, is one of a small group of unrestricted free agents searching for work with training camps wrapping up soon.

Earlier Friday, former Red Wings forward and unrestricted free agent Riley Sheahan signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Buffalo Sabres after attending camp on a professional tryout.

Sheahan, 29, helps fill the void left by the long-term injury to Zemgus Girgensons, who led all Sabres forwards in shorthanded ice time last year.

NBC analyst Pierre McGuire said Abdelkader's free-agent value has dropped after 13 seasons in Detroit. The 33-year-old Muskegon native has 106 goals and 252 points in 739 career games, including no goals and three assists in 49 games last year.

"I think there's a lot of high miles on the odometer," McGuire said on Ottawa TSN Radio 1200 on Friday morning. "He played a really robust game. You go back to when he was the MVP of the NCAA tournament when he played at Michigan State. He's played a certain style for so long. I don't know how much tread is left on the tire.

"It kind of reminds me of someone who I respect and like, (ex-Red Wing) Mike Knuble. He spent so much time in the league. He played a certain style for a long period of time but once the tread is off the tire, you're never getting it back."

In May of 2020, Abdelkader told Detroit News beat reporter Ted Kulfan that he "feels good and healthy" and can contribute on a regular basis after being a healthy scratch for four games last year.

“It’s not always points and goals and assists," said Abdeldader, who was named an assistant captain in 2016 along with Niklas Kronwall when Henrik Zetterberg was the team's captain. 

"There are intangibles and you have to make sure you’re bringing those intangibles and doing the little things every night."

mfalkner@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @falkner