Detroit Red Wings strike gold by trading for goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Steve Yzerman is continuing to do Steve Yzerman things.  The Detroit Red Wings potentially added their future franchise goaltender in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes for virtually nothing.

The Detroit Red Wings are sending pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Jonathan Bernier along with a third-round pick in exchange for the 25-year old phenom, Alex Nedeljkovic.  The Red Wings have a plethora of draft capital. With so many developmental leagues paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, Yzerman has made it known that scouting rookies in the upcoming draft class is challenging to say the least.

It isn’t easy to gather an accurate overall assessment for many of these junior leagues, particularly in Canada, as the kids missed an entire season.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see Yzerman flipping some of Detroit’s draft capital to add defenseman Nick Leddy and Nedeljkovic.  And Yzerman may not be finished yet.

The Red Wings entered the offseason with two first, three seconds, and two picks in each of the third, fourth, and fifth-rounds of the 2021 NHL Entry Level Draft.

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Yzerman traded the 52nd overall pick via Edmonton to acquire Leddy and now the 94th overall pick via Vegas to secure pending restricted free agent, Nedeljkovic.

The Detroit Red Wings fleeced the Carolina Hurricanes.

After trading for Nedljkovic’s rights, the Detroit Red Wings have quickly agreed to a contract extension.  The 25-year old has signed a two-year deal worth $6-million.  His average annual salary and cap hit will be $3 million in simple math terms, but in real money, Nedljkovic will earn $2.5 million in year one and $3.5 million in year two.

Nedlikovic, a former second-round pick, found his game this past season finishing third in the Calder Trophy voting, awarded to the NHL’s top rookie.  Nedljkovic went 15-5-3 as a rookie, posting a goals-against-average of 1.90 and save percentage of .932, both of which led the NHL.

Nedljkovic split time with former Red Wing Petr Mrazek and started nine postseason games where he excelled.  Going 4-5 in the playoffs does not really stand out, but Nedljkovic posted a .920 save percentage plus a stout 2.17 goals against average in those nine contests.  It’s easy to see why Yzerman coveted Nedljkovic and likely couldn’t believe he secured his services for such a low price.

On Carolina’s end, I don’t quite understand the deal.  It can’t possibly be a money saver as Bernier will certainly expect more than $3 million per season, and a third-round pick is nice. Still, it’s not exactly a premium pick, but Nedljkovic looks like he could be a franchise goaltender.

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The Red Wings had a glaring need in goal, and it looks like Yzerman has solved that issue for the time being.  Nedljkovic will split time with veteran Thomas Greiss next season and hopefully takes the reins at the position in years to come.