It came as somewhat of a surprise when Detroit Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman claimed goaltender Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken, but perhaps the insurance policy will be exercised sooner than later.
Hellberg, 31, had a short stint with the Detroit Red Wings last season, making one start earning a victory. The 6-foot-6 netminder had been a second-round pick of the Nashville Predators back in 2011 but hasn’t panned out at the NHL level. Hellberg has six NHL starts under his belt posting a 3-3 record and a 2.60 goals-against average to go with a mediocre 0.891 save percentage.
After failing to catch on with Nashville or the New York Rangers, Hellberg elected to head overseas to play in the KHL, where he saw plenty of success. Hellberg posted a staggering 0.940 save percentage and 1.32 goals against average over 34 starts with St. Petersburg SKA in 2018-19.
Magnus Hellberg has remained a healthy scratch for the Detroit Red Wings since claiming him, but his chance to play might be coming.
Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now wouldn’t be shocked if Hellberg competes with Alex Nedeljkovic for Detroit’s backup goaltending job in the near future. Nedeljkovic’s play has regressed this season after he emerged as one of the few bright spots on the team a year ago.
Recently, the Detroit Red Wings sent Hellberg down to Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint. Hellberg can play five games with the Griffins before he’s returned to Detroit.
Nedeljkovic, who has given up four or more goals in three straight starts, recently owned his struggles.
"“I think that’s just what it is lately,” Nedeljkovic said in the visitors locker room at FLA Live Arena. “It’s been one goes in, it’s followed by another and then another. I think that’s every game now — except for in New York and the first Jersey game, I’ve given up four, at least. It’s been tough.”"
Last season, Nedeljkovic maintained a save percentage of 0.901 and a goals-against average of 3.31 while splitting time with Thomas Greiss. This season, Nedeljkovic has a 0.880 save percentage and an awful 4.09 goals against average to go with a 2-4-2 record.
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Hellberg has played well in Grand Rapids, posting a record of 2-2-0 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a 0.932 save percentage. When the Red Wings initially claimed Hellberg, it seemed like Yzerman was hoping to slide him through waivers and assign him to Grand Rapids to be the Griffins’ starter down the stretch, but perhaps he will be needed in Detroit to spell the struggling Nedeljkovic.