Justin Abdelkader was a key contributor to the success of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and their capturing of the Clark Cup (USHL Championship) last season. He finished tied for third on the team in scoring with 52 points (27 goals, 25 assists) in 60 appearances. He was also a member of Team USHL at the 2005 USHL Prospects/All-Star game. Prior to his arrival in Cedar Rapids, Abdelkader played for Muskegon Mona Shores High School where he was named the 2004 recipient of Michigan’s Mr. Hockey Award, which recognizes the top high school player in the state.
2006-07: This marked Abdelkader’s sophomore season with Michigan State University (CCHA). He was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Frozen Four tournament. He scored the game-winning goal in the National Championship game against Boston College with just 18.9 second left- the latest a game-winner has ever been scored in an NCAA title game. He led the Spartans in penalties (40) and penalty minutes (91). He finished third on the team in scoring with 33 points, and tied for third on the squad with 18 assists. Three of his tallies were game-winners and he was one of six players to net four or more power play goals. 70 of his 91 penalty minutes came in conference games. He had a goal and an assist in a season-opening win over Western Michigan on Oct. 13. He tied a career-best three-game assist streak twice in the postseason- from game two of the CCHA quarterfinals to the consolation contest at the CCHA tournament, and from the Midwest Regional final to the national title game. He was also a member of team USA at the World Junior Championship, where he tallied two assists in seven games.
2007-08: His third and final season with the Spartans. He served as alternate captain and was named to the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team. He was honored as the CCHA’s Best Defensive Forward and also received the 2008 Mike and Marion Ilitch Humanitarian Award. He was Pre-Season and Post-Season Honorable Mention All-CCHA pick and earned MSU hockey’s Spartan Fitness Award, as well as being voted the recipient of the Amo Bessone Award, honoring athletic, academic, and community participation. He started the “Shoot for a Cure” initiative to help raise money for children’s cancer, which raised more than $5,000 for the cause. He finished the season with 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 42 games with the Spartans and appeared in two games with the Red Wings, registering six shots.
Abdelkader singed with the Detroit Red Wings on April 3, 2008, forgoing his final season of collegiate eligibility and thus ending his career with Michigan State University (CCHA).
2008-09: In 76 games with Grand Rapids of the AHL, Abdelkader scored 24 goals and 28 assists for 52 points. He also earned 102 PIMs. In 10 playoff games with the Griffins, he scored 6 goals and 2 assists. Abdelkader was held scoreless in his two regular season appearances with Detroit, but scored 2 goals and 1 assist in 10 playoff games with the big club.
2009-10: In 33 AHL games, Abdelkader scored 11 goals, 13 assists for 24 points along with 86 PIMs. A rash of injuries for the Red Wings led to Abdelkader spending a majority of his season in the NHL. He scored 3 goals and 3 assist in 50 regular season games, adding 35 PIMs in rather limited action. He appeared in 11 more playoff games with Detroit, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist with 36 PIMs.
Abdelkader has made the move to forward, where his big body can be difficult for defenders to handle. He has the size and skill combination to be a prototypical power forward.