Alex Nedeljkovic’s second season with the Detroit Red Wings keeps going from bad to worse, as the club placed the struggling goaltender on waivers Sunday.
Despite a successful conditioning stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League, the Red Wings opted to waive the netminder, who will be reassigned back to the AHL affiliate should he clear at 2 p.m. on Monday.
Life in Detroit has not been kind for the 27-year-old since he was acquired from Carolina after an excellent 2020-21 season where he posted a .932 save percentage and a 1.90 goals-against average. He also finished third in Calder Trophy voting and was named to the NHL All-Rookie team.
Since then, he lost his starting job this season to Ville Husso and has seemingly lost the backup position to newly acquired Magnus Hellberg after putting up a 4.09 GAA and a .880 SV% in nine games. Nedeljkovic also struggled last season, his first in Detroit, posting a 3.31 GAA and .901 SV% in 59 games.
“Lately, it’s been ‘one goes in and it’s followed by another and then another,’” said Nedeljkovic after a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Dec. 8—his last game to date for Detroit. “It’s been tough.”
Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has not shied away from waiving players who have not performed to expectations, doing the same with Jakub Vrana earlier this month. The move to waive Nedeljkovic was also done in order to free up a roster spot for Filip Zadina, who is expecting to start his own conditioning stint with the Griffins after breaking his leg on Nov. 5.
Nedeljkovic’s $3 million cap hit and the fact that he becomes an unrestricted free agent next season would most likely prevent him from being claimed. It would also bring a goaltending boost to a Grand Rapids team that has conceded the third-most goals in the AHL.
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