To be honest, I thought we were done with all of these announcements, especially after Pavel Datsyuk, Petr Mrazek, Henrik Zetterberg & Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Tatar, and Dylan Larkin were all previously named to various National and Fictional teams. But then USA Hockey, who were last to the podium, announce their team, and Justin Abdelkader became the seventh Red Wings player to make it to the tournament on Roster Day One.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 2, 2016
Don’t get me wrong, I like Abdelkader well enough, but count me in as one of the people surprised that he would make this roster. Ultimately, Dean Lombardi felt he was a must-have in the opening sixteen, going as far as saying “This is a kid… he’s very difficult to play against and only going to get better.”
Now, Abdelkader is 29 years old, will be close to 30 when the tournament starts and has been one of the weaker possession players on the Red Wings this year, but whatever Dean Lombardi has to say to himself to convince himself that this is the right idea, we’ll take it.
In fairness, this isn’t the first time that Abdelkader has represented the United States at the international level. He was a member of the 2007 World Junior Team and played in both the 2012 and 2014 World Championships. In the latter tourney, he was the team’s captain and picked up three goals in seven games. While Abdelkader is still looking for his first medal at the Men’s level, he did pick up a Bronze at his lone World Juniors appearance.
With the selection, the Red Wings are represented on six of eight teams; only Finland and Canada are lacking a Detroit player. The tournament begins on September 17th and will end on October 1st. All games will be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.