The Detroit Red Wings fleeced the Carolina Hurricanes this afternoon, 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.
It's the latest stroke of genius for the Red Wings general manager, who once again proves why he's one of hockey's best at the position. He took full advantage of the Hurricanes, who didn't want to pay the goaltender who won them several playoff games this past spring what he wanted and lowballed him with an offer of half of what he'd sign for with Detroit.
For Nedeljkovic, arriving in the Motor City is the perfect match.
“An opportunity to, not kickstart my career but to really try to get it going in the right direction and kind of cement that I can play in this league,” Nedeljkovic said.
“I think Steve (general manager Yzerman) has done a great job of getting this organization pointed back in the right direction. I just hope I can be another piece in the process and get it back to the winning ways they were and bring some more Stanley Cups to Detroit.”
He already has a local Michigan connection, having started his major junior play in 2012 in the Ontario Hockey League with the Plymouth Whalers and a season with the Flint Firebirds. And of course, there's the fact that his wife attends Michigan State University. A win for everyone!
“She was probably happier than I was that I’d be around full-time,” he said. “Because she’s been doing school the last few years, we haven’t been able to spend the entire year living together. We’re really excited just to be together year-round. It’ll just be normal now.”
Thanks to his strong efforts during the 2020-21 NHL season, Nedeljkovic was nominated for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. He also had a hand in Carolina's playoff success this season, winning four playoff games.
While playing with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers, Nedeljkovic became the 13th goaltender in AHL history to score a goal. He would also help lead the Checkers to the Calder Cup in 2019.
– – Quotes via MLive Link – –