Detroit Red Wings G Alex Nedeljkovic clears waivers: Still No. 3 in organization, says team

Detroit Free Press

DENVER — Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic will remain in the Detroit Red Wings‘ system after clearing waivers.

General manager Steve Yzerman placed Nedeljkovic on waivers Sunday, and no team put in a claim for him by Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline. While Nedeljkovic stays on the payroll, it enabled the Wings to assign him to the minors, which removed Nedeljkovic from the 23-man roster.

“I meant it when I said earlier, I don’t think we’ve given up on him at all,” coach Derek Lalonde said Monday afternoon. “He’s still No. 3 in our organization. There are still a lot of unknowns within our goaltending.”

Ville Husso is signed through 2024-25, but the Wings do not have a backup signed beyond this season.

Nedeljkovic carries a $3 million salary cap hit in what is the last year of his contract, and has struggled to show he belongs in the NHL this season. He last played for the Wings on Dec. 8 at the Florida Panthers, and with that 5-1 loss, Nedeljkovic had a 2-4-2 record with a 4.09 goals-against average and .880 save percentage.

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Nedeljkovic, 27, lost his backup job to Magnus Hellberg, who was claimed off waivers in November. Hellberg doesn’t have great numbers — he’s 2-3-0 with a 2.81 GAA and .896 save percentage with the Wings — but he only carries a $750,000 salary cap hit, and would almost certainly have been claimed had he been exposed.

The upside to Nedeljkovic staying is he has stabilized goaltending with the Grand Rapids Griffins. In six games during a conditioning stint that began Jan. 4, Nedeljkovic is 3-2-1 with a 2.30 GAA and .920 save percentage.

“We asked him to go down there and get his game in order,” Lalonde said. “Probably a calculated risk, putting him on waivers. He’s going to continue to play there and he will be a potential option for us down the road.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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