Red Wings: Magnus Hellberg and Alex Nedeljkovic have a golden opportunity

(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

It seems Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg will be battling it out in goal for the Detroit Red Wings for the remainder of the regular season, with starter Ville Husso likely done for the year with a lower-body injury.

The Detroit Red Wings have struggled to find a steady backup goaltender to give Husso a breather this season. Hellberg, 31, and Nedeljkovic, 27, have had their share of ups and downs this season. Nedeljkovic began the year as the backup but failed to meet his expectations. The 27-year-old performed adequately as Detroit’s top goaltending option last season, but the wheels came off right from the get-go this season.

Last season Nedeljkovic made 59 appearances for Detroit, going 20-24-9, posting a 0.901% save percentage and a 3.31 goals against average. This season, he’s maintained a dreadful 0.882% save percentage and a 3.83 goals-against average going 2-6-2 over eleven appearances. His inconsistent play prompted general manager Steve Yzerman to claim Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken mid-season. Hellberg had been somewhat acquainted with the Red Wings as he made one start for the club at the end of last season.

Hellberg is a towering 6-foot-6, and we all know Yzerman loves his tall netminders. Hellberg has appeared in 15 games to date for the Red Wings this season, posting a 4-7-1 record to go with a 3.04 goals-against average and a 0.895% save percentage.

At this point, neither goaltender is a great option for the organization. Still, both will get an opportunity, perhaps to win the job over Detroit’s final ten games heading into next season. If Yzerman isn’t satisfied with either, he will be sifting through a mostly bleak free-agent pool to fill the void.

Red Wings goaltender Ville Husso is likely done for the season.

Here’s what head coach Derek Lalonde had to say about Husso’s status on Monday.

"“Husso is in a week-long evaluation, where he is dealing with getting a couple of different opinions,”“He’s actually feeling better, but he’s going through the proper process, and it’s going to take a few days.”Husso’s injury is “something that’s been underlying probably for a couple of years on him, which is very common for his position. I think it’s just come to the forefront now.”"

More Detroit Red Wings news

Lalonde said it appears as though forward Robby Fabbri’s season is over. Fabbri has been out since March 8th after suffering a knee injury. The good news, though, is Fabbri, who has suffered a torn ACL on three occasions throughout his career, appears to have avoided disaster this time. The Detroit Red Wings are taking a ‘cautious approach’ with Fabbri, says Lalonde, and are making sure he will be ready to go for next season. Lalonde said if ‘surgery is required, it will be more of a clean-up rather than a serious procedure.’

The Detroit Red Wings are making progress with forward Carter Mazur. Mazur, 20, just finished a stellar season with the University of Denver, where he scored 22 goals and 37 points in 40 games this season. This came after a 14-goal, 38-point campaign a season ago. Detroit selected the Jackson, Michigan native 70th overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Level Draft.

Red Wings fans also got some more exciting news on Monday afternoon.

William Wallinder was selected 32nd overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Level Draft. The 6-foot-3 left-handed defender has played the last two seasons with Rogle BK Angelholm of the Swedish Hockey League. This past season, Wallinder was teammates with Detroit’s top prospect Marco Kasper. Wallinder, 20, is headed to North America and will report to the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he will finish the year.

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The young defender recorded seven goals and 26 points over 50 games this season. He joins Antti Tuomisto, who recently signed an entry-level contract, and hopefully, Mazur will follow suit.