3 former Red Wings who Steve Yzerman should not bring back in 2024-25

The Red Wings will see their fair share of former players hit the free agency market this summer, and a few of them belong in different uniforms.
Apr 11, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39)
Apr 11, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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There are a few former Detroit Red Wings players entering NHL free agency this offseason, and it could be enticing to see some familiar faces return to the Motor City to help this team break its playoff drought. While you can make the case for a few players, like Dominik Kubalik and Tyler Bertuzzi, to return, it’s not the same for everyone. 

Of the former Red Wings slated to find new homes in the summer of 2024, three players jump out. One name enjoyed a solid season elsewhere, but it still doesn’t take away his lackluster performances with the Red Wings, while another is a good defensive forward who didn’t improve what should have been a playoff team in 2023-24. 

A third face would have factored in as a tremendous addition had he signed in July 2023, but fast-forward a season, and it wouldn’t be wise to add him this time around. 

Alex Nedeljkovic, G

Few Red Wings fans would have wanted to see Alex Nedeljkovic return following a disastrous two seasons in the Motor City. Between 2021-22 and 2022-23, Nedeljkovic recorded 25 wins in 65 starts, a 0.900 save percentage, a 3.35 GAA, four shutouts, and a 0.508 quality starts percentage. 

After Nedeljkovic left Detroit for Pittsburgh, his GAA improved from 3.53 in 2022-23 to 2.97, and he snagged 18 wins in just 33 starts, indicating he’s improved over the past season. But it would be a mistake to welcome Nedeljkovic back to Detroit because, despite some improvements, he also regressed in a few areas. 

In Detroit, Nedeljkovic recorded 12 ‘really bad starts,’ but that number sat at 10 this past season. He also recorded a 0.485 quality starts percentage, so even if his performance looked better in some terms, he ended up with more subpar starts than high-quality ones. 

Plus, the Red Wings need to be serious about making an eventual return to the postseason, and adding another 1B-caliber goaltender to their current lineup wouldn’t help. The Wings can’t afford to bring on more netminders with stopgap or 1B potential - it needs to be a 1A or a clear-cut No. 1, and not a repeat of this past season’s rotation.