Both the Detroit Red Wings and oddsmakers agree on a subject that evidently the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t – that Alex Nedeljkovic is an elite NHL goaltender.
The Hurricanes determined that Nedeljkovic wasn’t worth the $3 million per year contract he was seeking and dealt the netminder to the Red Wings. Detroit immediately signed Nedeljkovic to a two-year, $6 million contract.
“This is a business just as much as it is a game today,” Nedeljkovic said. “We have to have to what’s best for us sometimes and the team has to do what’s best for them.
“We just couldn’t come to an agreement. Fortunately, we were able to get moved on and move to a great organization.”
With the Hurricanes last season, Nedeljkovic led the NHL with a 1.90 goals against average and .932 save percentage in 23 games. He was a Calder Trophy finalist. Since he only played 23 games, Nedeljkovic still is eligible to win the Calder this season.
Amazingly, any NHL team could’ve grabbed Nedeljkovic for free. At one point last season, the Hurricanes placed the netminder on waivers.
Detroit GM Steve Yzerman believes he may have acquired his goalie of the future.
“We think based on last year is a very good goaltender who can challenge to be a starter,” Yzerman said.
— Hockey Hound (@HockeyHoundShow) September 8, 2021
Oddsmakers at online sportsbook BetMGM appear to share Yzerman’s optimism. They’ve established Nedeljkovic as the co-eighth betting choice to win the Vezina Trophy this season. Both Nedeljkovic and Tuukka Rask are opening at odds of +1400. Rask is currently seeking a new contract. Expectations are he’ll rejoin the Boston Bruins at some point this season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning is the +600 favorite. The odds on Nedeljkovic are only slightly longer than that what bettors can get on former Vezina and Hart Trophy winner Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens (+1200).
Among those assigned longer Vezina odds than Nedeljkovic are Stanley Cup winner Jordan Binnington (+2200) of the St. Louis Blues, former Wing Petr Mrazek (+1800) of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Robin Lehner (+1800) of the Vegas Golden Knights, two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky (+2700) of the Florida Panthers and Carter Hart (+3200) of the Philadelphia Flyers.