The Detroit Red Wings should not extend netminder Alex Nedeljkovic when his contract expires this summer. The 27-year-old netminder has not lived up to the hype for the Red Wings. Even though he has not been back to Detroit and started a game since December, it’s time to move on.
The Detroit Red Wings sent Nedeljkovic down in December, passing him through waivers, and he did not get claimed. The Red Wings netminder has played in some games with the Red Wings in 2022-23, and the results are not pretty at all.
In eight starts over nine games in 2022-23, Nedeljkovic has played to a 2-4-2 record. His performance has warranted a .880 save percentage and a 4.09 goals-against average. More than deserved to be replaced at the time. This is what Steve Yzerman brought in Magnus Hellberg to be; a replacement.
But, looking ahead, Nedeljkovic is a free agent after the 2022-23 season concludes. With his contract expiring, it’s just hard to see a reason to want to bring him back. If they do, it has to be on a cheap contract where he can prove himself.
Detroit Red Wings should not extend Alex Nedeljkovic.
Now, do not get things twisted. I am not suggesting that Magnus Hellberg is the savior backup goaltender who is the perfect backup option. But I would surely rather see Hellberg in the backup role than Nedeljkovic.
Nedeljkovic had a $3 million cap hit this season, whereas Hellberg has just a $750,000 cap hit on his contract after being claimed off waivers. While Nedeljkovic has steadied himself and found a footing in the AHL, it seems like it’s time to move on from Nedeljkovic.
For what it’s worth, Nedeljkovic has found that footing with a 9-8-2 record over 20 games at the AHL level in 2022-23 since being demoted. He has played to a 2.90 goals against average, and a .908 save percentage.
There’s an improvement from the putrid NHL numbers, but it feels like there will be better value on the free-agent market or available via trade to fill the need moving forward. The summer is a ways away, and there is time for things to change, but the way things have gone to this point, it’s hard to find a lot of reasons to be vying for a Nedeljkovic extension.
If the Red Wings will extend him, it better be on a one-year deal or very short-term, at a low value. It needs to be a “prove it” contract for him to try and show that he can get things on track and be the player the Red Wings thought they traded for.