The Detroit Red Wings continue their three-goaltender rotation, this time sending Alex Nedeljkovic to the AHL on a conditioning stint. The netminder can spend up to two weeks in the minor leagues, but that will give him plenty of opportunity to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins, who have two games this weekend and another three next week.
Nedeljkovic, 26, had to sit out a number of games to be eligible for the conditioning loan, though his performance since arriving in Detroit has essentially relegated him to the third-string option anyway. In nine appearances he has an .880 save percentage, following his .901 as the starter a year ago. That’s nowhere near the goaltender that showed up for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2020-21 and posted a .932 save percentage in 23 appearances, finishing third in Calder Trophy voting.
The Hurricanes were always against handing the reins to Nedeljkovic in years past, though, despite strong performances in the minor leagues and struggling goaltenders at the NHL level. When they traded him to the Red Wings for Jonathan Bernier and a third-round pick, many laughed and called it a huge win for Detroit. But Carolina was never willing to give Nedeljkovic the two-year, $6MM contract that he signed with the Red Wings, and perhaps they were right to move him after all.
Now, just 18 months after the trade was made, it appears as though Detroit has essentially moved on from the goaltender. A pending unrestricted free agent, it seems unlikely that the Red Wings will re-sign him, though perhaps he can get his game back together and contribute down the stretch. The conditioning loan does not take him off the active roster, and doesn’t remove his cap hit from the books. If they wanted to do that, Nedeljkovic would need to clear waivers.