The Detroit Red Wings dropped a tough one to the Florida Panthers last night by a score of 5-1. I found myself asking the question during the game is it time for a change at goalie? Ville Husso is the clear-cut number 1 for this team and if the playoffs started tomorrow, he would be in net every game, but what about the backup situation? Right now, it is Alex Nedeljkovic but there has been a lot said for how Magnus Hellberg and how he has looked playing in Grand Rapids so is there a conversation for a change?
Alex Nedeljkovic was acquired by the Red Wings in the summer of 2021 from the Carolina Hurricanes for Jonathan Bernier and a third-round pick, and he immediately signed a two-year contract, which will make him a free agent at the end of this season. Nedeljkovic, before coming to Detroit, led the Hurricanes to the playoffs in the 2020-21 season with a 15-5-3 record. In the playoffs, he started nine of the Hurricanes' 11 games posting a 4-5-0 record with a 2.17 Goals Against Average.
Now, this season Nedeljkovic has a 2-4-2 record and a 4.09 Goals Against Average. In his last three starts, he has allowed four or more goals in those games. The Red Wings as a team look completely different when Nedeljkovic is in goal: just sloppy and with no protection. He did keep them in the Buffalo game a few weeks ago when he stood tall in the third period and allowed them to go to overtime where they would eventually lose in a shootout, but they shouldn't have gotten to that point in the first place if it wasn't for Nedeljkovic.
Magnus Hellberg was claimed on waivers from the Seattle Kraken on November 23rd of this season. Hellberg played for the Red Wings last year and appeared in one game which was the final game of the season against the Devils which the Red Wings won 5-3. This season he has played only one game in the NHL which was for the Ottawa Senators and that one game was a win in which Hellberg stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced.
He is currently playing in Grand Rapids on a conditioning assignment; he has appeared in two games for the Griffins up to this point and he has a 1-1-0 record with a 2.52 Goals Against Average and .937 save percentage. In his NHL career, he has only made 3 starts and he posts a 3-0-0 record and has a 2.60 career Goals Against Average.
Is It Time For A Change?
So, after all the stats and numbers from both who would you go with? Personally, I wish Ville Husso could play every night. I wish they went with Husso last night and Nedeljkoivic Saturday. I would rather go for the points against a division opponent but that was not the case.
Do the Red Wings consider putting Nedeljkovic on waivers or just have him not dress and call up Hellberg and give him a shot as the backup? I could see Nedeljkovic starting one of the games either Tuesday or Wednesday and if he doesn't look good Derek LaLonde may have to start thinking about a change.