The Detroit Red Wings have acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for the rights to goalie Jonathan Bernier and a 2021 3rd round draft pick.
Per his agent, Nedeljkovic has signed a two-year deal with Detroit immediately following the trade. For Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman, this is a heist. Nedeljkovic is not a star goaltender, but he showed flashes of potential this past season. And by flashes of potential, I mean leading the league in goals against and save percentage. He went from perennial third-goalie to starter in 23 games, fixing Carolina’s goalie problem. He was also just a rookie! Nedeljkovic ended up finished third in Calder voting. Now, he is a Red Wing. The price is still very, very low. He is not being paid as a starter and the real cost is the 94th overall pick in the upcoming draft, via Vegas (Tomas Tatar trade). Bernier is a veteran who will become a UFA in less than a week.
Nedeljkovic, 25, had a .932 save percentage with a 1.90 GAA in 23 games for the Hurricanes this past season. In his NHL career, all in Carolina, Nedeljkovic has a .928 save percentage with a 2.01 GAA in 29 games.
The Hurricanes made a really odd move. Nedeljkovic was an RFA and in 2020-21, he fixed their long withstanding goaltending problem. Now it is right back. While his short, three-month reign of terror could be seen as a fluke, the Canes still could have gotten more. They acquire Bernier, who is not a lock to stay with the team. Assuming he does sign, he is a downgrade from what Nedeljkovic did last year and potentially could command more money. The third-round pick is not enough to cover for the skill and age gap here.
Bernier, who will be 33 on August 7, had a .914 save percentage with a 2.99 GAA in 24 games for the Red Wings in 2020-21. In his NHL career for the Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and Colorado Avalanche, Bernier has a .913 save percentage with a 2.77 GAA in 394 games.