It was a little over one year ago that the Detroit Red Wings fleeced the Carolina Hurricanes, acquiring Calder Trophy finalist Alex Nedeljkovic for the contract rights of soon-to-be RFA Jonathan Bernier and the 94th overall selection in the upcoming NHL Draft. Detroit then immediately signed Nedeljkovic to a two-year contract worth $3 million per season.
The man known as “Ned” saw plenty of time in the Red Wings crease during last season, amassing a record of 20-24-9. This season, he'll be teaming up with the recently acquired Ville Husso, whom Yzerman brought aboard from the St. Louis Blues in a similar trade.
Nedeljkovic and the Red Wings enjoyed a strong start to last season, entering themselves in the Wild Card playoff spot conversation over the first half of the campaign before unfortunately falling back down to earth as the calendar moved from January to February and so on.
“I think that was the hardest part, we had such a good start to the year,” he said during an interview on “The Stoney and Jansen Show” on 97.1 The Ticket. “I don't think anyone expected us to be where we were at Christmastime, and the second half of the season came and it is what it is now. It was tough, but there was a lot there we can learn from and use moving forward. Hopefully this year, we can take that next step.”
Alex Nedeljkovic is entering his 2nd year in Detroit
There are several new faces in Detroit this year, including new head coach Derek Lalonde whom Yzerman hired from the Tampa Bay Lightning to replace Jeff Blashill.
“I met him at the rink one day and talked to him a handful of times on the phone,” Nedeljkovic said of Lalonde. “Everything I've heard from other guys that have either played for him or been around the organization with him is that the's a great guy and will provide us with a really good structure on the ice. I got that same impression when I met him, and I'm looking forward to working with him and having him behind the bench this year.”
Nedeljkovic then explained that he was happy with the Husso acquisition, saying that NHL squads need two capable goaltenders; he was also happy with the additional moves that Yzerman made, bringing in the likes of Andrew Copp, David Perron, Olli Maatta, Ben Chiarot, and Dominik Kubalik.
“I thought it was great, you need two guys in the League the way it's going to push each other and make each other better, but also to be able to put a guy in the team feels confident in every night is huge. You feel like you can let the guys in front of you play their game and not worry about who is in net.”
“I knew Copper a little bit beforehand skating with him since he's from the area, and obviously Perron is a goal scorer and had success, he's won the Stanley Cup,” he continued. “Chiarot is a physical presence on the blue line, same as Maatta. Steve did a great job bringing in a lot of guys that are going to contribute and have an impact on this team right away.”