In a surprise move the day before the NHL Draft, the Detroit Red Wings have acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes for the rights to goaltender Jonathan Bernier and a third-round pick from the Vegas Golden Knights in tomorrow’s draft. The 25-year-old netminder was a pending restricted free agent but was reportedly unlikely to be qualified by Carolina due to his arbitration eligibility and how much he would potentially be rewarded. Instead, he has signed a two-year, $3 million AAV contract with the Red Wings.
It’s a huge trade for the Red Wings who had been struggling with finding a young netminder for the future. With the struggles of their top prospects and another in Keith Petruzzelli reportedly deciding not to sign with Detroit, rumors were swirling that they may draft a goalie with their top pick on Friday. But now with the acquisition of Nedeljkovic, they may just have the guy they were looking for.
Nedeljkovic had an excellent season in Carolina, finishing third in voting for the Calder Trophy after starting 23 games and rocking a 1.90 GAA and a .932 SV%. He was decent in the playoffs as well, starting nine games with a 2.17 GAA and .920 SV%. He would immediately be the number one guy in Detroit pairing with veteran netminder Thomas Greiss, who has one year remaining on his two-year contract.
As for Carolina, they acquire a goalie who had seen the best years of his career so far playing in Detroit. The basic stats don’t look great, with just a 2.99 GAA and a .914 SV% in 2021. However, when you consider the struggles of Detroit as a whole over his seasons in Detroit, it’s quite impressive what he has been able to do in Hockeytown. He’s an unrestricted free agent, so the Hurricanes will have to make a deal with him.
Most would say this deal was a massive win for Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings. They get a netminder who is young and has a very promising future. Meanwhile, they get rid of a goalie they most likely weren’t going to keep and a draft pick at the very end of the third round to acquire him. It’s quite frankly a steal for a GM who has been fleecing opposing GMs since he arrived in Detroit. Now it’s time to see if Nedeljkovic is that great, or if he was a product of an elite defense in Carolina.
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