Detroit Red Wings Roster: Comparing Abdelkader & Ciccarelli


There is not a player in NHL history that was more dangerous, within 5 feet of the goal, than former Detroit Red Wings winger Dino Ciccarelli. Often compared to a garbage man, Ciccarelli had better rebound control than most goalies. In 19 NHL seasons Ciccarelli scored an impressive 608 goals and 1200 points on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Ciccarelli spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota North Stars but had a few memorable seasons with the Detroit Red Wings between 1992 and 1996.

More from Octopus Thrower

Ciccarelli ended his time in Detroit as a part of the Red Wings team that earned a record breaking 62 wins in the regular season. Ciccarelli never won a Cup in  Detroit but he did win the respect of Red Wings fans.

Beyond his offensive prowess, Ciccarelli was not one to back down from an altercation. He stuck up for teammates and got under the skin of opposing players. He was not the cleanest player in NHL history but I feel that edge made him the player that he was. Anyone that watches hockey knows how rough and nasty things can get in front of the net and Ciccarelli spent most of his career there.

One of my favorite Ciccarelli moments happened right after the 1996 Western Conference Finals against the Colorado Avalanche. Ciccarelli expressed regret about shaking Claude Lemieux’s hand at the end of the series after Lemieux’s infamous dirty hit on Kris Draper. His comments stirred up a lot of controversy, but at least for me, he was saying what I felt and I appreciated it.

So on this roster, who is the player that closely resembles him? There was only one player I felt had the chance of being the next Ciccarelli and that is Justin Abdelkader.

Granted Abdelkader has no where near the offensive production of Ciccarelli and probably will never match it. For one, it is more difficult to put up those kind of numbers in today’s NHL. Ciccarelli played when it was more common to score 100 points in a season.

More from Red Wings News

Today the league’s best players put up a point a game and only a few actually break the century mark. Even though Abby might not put up any 40 or 50 goal seasons, he can still push to 30 on the top line with Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

Where Abdelkader most resembles Ciccarelli is in the way he can fire up opposing players. Abdelkader has shown to be someone who boils the blood of the opposition causing them to take stupid penalties. Abdelkader is also the one who will usually come to the defense of a fellow teammate and drop the gloves in their place.

In Game 3 of this year’s Atlantic Semi-Final series against Tampa Bay, you can see how quickly Abdelkader jumps in to stick up for Mrazek. This is classic Abdelkader and one of the reasons he is one of my favorite players on the Red Wings.

Another similarity between Abdelkader and Ciccarelli is that they both had success in the Stanley Cup Finals during their rookie seasons. In 2009 Abdelkader was the first rookie to score a goal in back to back Stanley Cup Finals games since Ciccarelli did it with the North Stars in 1981. Interestingly both of their respective teams ended up losing their series.  Abdelkader has not really been as consistent in the playoffs as Ciccarelli but if he continues to improve his net front presence it will surely start paying dividends soon.

In the 2015-2016 season, I expect Abdelkader to reach even higher offensive numbers than last year. That is saying something since Abdelkader put up pretty respectable numbers last season. In 71 games Abdelkader notched 23 goals and 21 assists on which I feel he will build this year. If you watch some of the clip below you will see how Abdelkader really favors Ciccarelli and his net front style.

The power play was Dino Ciccarelli’s bread and butter as shown in the power play hat trick video above. Abdelkader also showed how deadly he can be on the power play last year by  putting up 14 points on the power play including 8 goals. I think the real question mark for Abdelkader will be if Blashill decides to keep him on the top line with Datsyuk and Zetterberg and keeps him on the power play. If he retains his position in both situations, I can see Abdelkader having his first 30 goal season.

There will never be another Dino Ciccarelli but Abdelkader is definitely a Ciccarelli type of player and I believe that he has a lot more to show us in the near future.

Next: Daniel M. Cleary Will you Please Go Now!

More from Octopus Thrower