Nedeljkovic, 25, became a restricted free agent at the end of the 2020-21 season and reportedly sought more money with Carolina, but Detroit GM Steve Yzerman was able to get him for $3 million against the cap for two seasons.
The ask for Alex Nedeljkovic with #Canes was in the $3.5 million AAV range.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 22, 2021
He was a Calder Trophy (NHL’s top rookie) finalist this past season with 15 wins in 23 games (15-3-1) and a .932 save percentage. He also posted a 4-3-2 record in nine playoff games with a .920 save percentage. He was named the AHL’s top goaltender for 2018-19 when he went 34-9-5 with the Charlotte Checkers. He helped the Checkers win the AHL’s Calder Cup that year.
Then he struggled to win a starting job with the Hurricanes.
Red Wings fans may recognize Nedeljkovic’s name from the Plymouth Whalers, the former OHL team based in Plymouth, Mich. Nedeljkovic played three seasons with the Whalers and was drafted 37th overall by Carolina in 2014 while still with Plymouth.
Nedeljkovic will now join Thomas Greiss as Detroit’s goalie tandem heading into this seasons, barring any more moves from Yzerman, of course. Greiss was Detroit’s only protected goalie in the Seattle expansion draft. He has one year left on his contract.
There was speculation that the Red Wings, with the No. 6 and No. 23 picks in the 1st round, might draft a goalie this year. But that speculation was solely based on Detroit’s draft positions. This trade for Nedeljkovic basically erases that speculation.
There also was belief that Bernier would re-sign with Detroit, but then there was word out that he was testing the free agent market. Perhaps Carolina has a contract in mind for him. The Hurricanes now have three unrestricted free agents to deal with, or not, at the goaltending position: Bernier, former Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek, and James Reimer.
The NHL’s freeze on trades lifted at 1 p.m. Thursday. Free agency opens July 28.