The Detroit Red Wings fleeced the Carolina Hurricanes this offseason, 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.
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!
“Your job stays the same,” Nedeljkovic said. “It was to stop pucks (in Carolina) and this year, it will be to stop pucks for us now. It’s learning a new system, getting used to the guys. That’s really it.”
Thanks to the fact that he only started 23 regular season games last year, Nedeljkovic still technically qualifies as a rookie, and could even find himself up for the Calder Trophy once again should he repeat his performance.
“That’d be something,” Nedeljkovic said. “But honestly, as cool as that would be, it’s not the end goal. Our goal is to make playoffs and win the Stanley Cup regardless of how we did last year. I think that should be the mindset every year going into camp. We’re here to win games and it doesn’t matter what everybody says about us in the offseason, or what we did the year before.”
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 last 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 – –