Red Wings: Overview of the goalie system in Detroit

Alex Nedeljkovic of the Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Nedeljkovic of the Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Now is a better time than ever to look at the three current Red Wings goaltenders and one of the top goaltender prospects in the organization to see how they stack up.

Alex Nedeljkovic

Nedeljkovic has appeared in 78 career NHL games- 49 of them being this season with the Detroit Red Wings and the other 29 were all with the Carolina Hurricanes over a three-season span. Throughout his short career thus far, Nedeljkovic has a .910 SV%. At the moment he is Detroit’s best goaltender but has proven to have very hot and cold runs in the season- with the hot streaks being brilliant and the cold streaks being atrocious.

This season, Nedeljkovic has faced 1,468 shots and has allowed 145 goals- giving him a .901 SV% which is essentially the average for an NHL goaltender. His current goals against average is 3.26 which is the lowest of the three Detroit goalies. There have been multiple stretches in this season in which he has started more than two games in a row which has inevitably caused him to be overworked since he is still a young goalie in his first full NHL season. Hopefully being in a situation in which he is given enough time to rest between starts and develop a more consistently strong pattern of play will help him be the goaltender he has shown that he can be.

Thomas Greiss

Having previously played with the Sharks, Coyotes, Penguins, and Islanders over the span of 11 seasons, Thomas Greiss has spent two seasons with Detroit so far. His career average save percentage is a .912 which is just above the average, so he fills the role of an experienced goaltender for the younger goalie to learn from on this roster. With him having over four times the experience that Nedeljkovic does, there is something to be said in terms of him providing a form of mentorship to him in his first full NHL season.

Aside from being a veteran mentor on the team, this season with Detroit has been one of the worst throughout his entire NHL career. Both his highest goals against average and lowest save percentage have been obtained in the 25 games he has played this season. Currently holding a 3.79 GAA and a .885 SV% through 25 games played, Greiss has slightly fallen off compared to his last season with Detroit (2.70 GAA and a .912 SV% in 34 games).

Calvin Pickard

Spending the majority of his time with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Pickard is the go-to call-up when either Nedeljkovic or Greiss is out of the lineup for one reason or another. Pickard has been in the league for eight seasons with the Avalanche, Maple Leafs, Flyers, Coyotes, and now the Red Wings since the 2019-20 season. His career save percentage in the NHL is a .903 having played 116 games with a cumulative 3.04 goals against average.

This season, Pickard has come up to Detroit to play in three games- two in Janurary when Greiss was in COVID protocol and the other being just last weekend since Greiss is injured. He started vs the Penguins on January 27th and the Red Wings won and he had a stellar game with a .947 SV% and two goals against. However, the other two games he has appeared in have not been as flattering for his stats. The game vs the Penguins on March 27th was not only bad in terms of performance but Pickard also got pulled due to an injury.

Sebastian Cossa

One of the top goaltending prospects for the Red Wings, Sebastian Cossa, is currently playing with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League. At just 19 years old and standing a whopping 6’6”, Cossa was drafted 15th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft and has signed a three-year entry-level contract with Detroit.

In his three seasons with the Oil Kings, Cossa has played in 94 games with 64 of those being wins. With a .921 SV% and 2.14 goals against average throughout his career, he is a prospect worth being excited about. This 2021-22 season has been the most he has ever played in the WHL with 42 games played, but he has carried a great record with 31 wins, a .911 SV%, and 2.33 GAA. Cossa has faced over 1,000 shots in just 42 games and has only allowed 95 goals so far- not too shabby! Given that he keeps this level of performance and gets to come to training camp, there’s a good chance he may make his league debut within the next three years.

Going Forward

Alex Nedeljkovic holds the role of primary starting goaltender for the Red Wings this season and at this moment is likely to be in the same position for next season, but who will the other half of the goalie tandem be? Will it be Greiss or will he be moved and Pickard comes up? What about bringing Cossa up to the league? There is not a clear answer at the moment but most signs would point to moving Thomas Greiss in the off-season as well as trying to find a backup goaltender for Alex Nedeljkovic. All that can be done is to sit back and see what Steve Yzerman does in the off-season.

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