The Detroit Red Wings acquired their goaltender of the future, Alex Nedeljkovic, from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for pending UFA Jonthan Bernier and a third-round pick. Nedeljkovic has already signed an extension with Detroit: two years, $3 million AAV.
The Hurricanes have decided to move on from their young goalie as he reportedly sought a contract extension with a $3.5 million average annual value.
Selected in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Nedeljkovic is 25-years-old and is shorter for a prototypical Yzerman goalie, standing at 6-foot. 2020-21 was his rookie season in the NHL, where he played in 23 games with the Hurricanes. Nedeljkovic’s impressive .932 save percentage and 1.9 average goals against secured third place in Calder voting.
Nedeljkovic was also solid in the playoffs. Although he had a losing record (4-5), he secured a .920 save percentage and 2.17 average goals against in nine games.
In Nedeljkovic, the Red Wings have finally secured a young goalie for the future. With Keith Petruzzelli rumored to be leaving the organization, goaltending became perhaps the biggest gap in the prospect pipeline. Not only is Nedeljkovic a top goalie prospect, he’s also proven to be effective at the NHL level.
To pay for Nedeljkovic, GM Steve Yzerman gave up the third-round draft pick Detroit acquired from Vegas in the Tomas Tatar trade and Jonathan Bernier. Although Bernier has been absolutely stellar in his past three seasons as a Red Wing, there have been reports that he was testing out free agency this offseason. Essentially, Yzerman eliminated the risk of losing a goalie for nothing and tacked on one of his many draft picks in the upcoming draft.
This also has implications in the 2021 NHL Draft. Many analysts projected Detroit as one of the organizations that would take a risk on one of the top goaltending prospects, whether it be Sebastian Cossa or Jesper Wallstedt. However, with Nedeljkovic, the goaltending problem looks to be solved. It seems that Yzerman might be looking elsewhere with the 6th overall pick.