The Detroit Red Wings signed Swedish 6-foot-6, 209-pound goalie Magnus Hellberg, a five-year Kontinental Hockey League veteran, presumably to help the Grand Rapids Griffins’ farm team. The contract is for the remainder of this season.
In other news, undrafted college player Ben Meyers, a Minnesota forward, signed as a free agent with the Colorado Avalanche. The Detroit Red Wings were among the NHL teams wooing Meyers.
The Griffins’ top goalie Calvin Pickard is out with an injury. He was playing for the Red Wings’ in a 11-2 loss at Pittsburgh on March 27 when he suffered an undisclosed injury.
The Griffins are in a battle to make the AHL playoffs, and Pickard’s backup Victor Brattstrom (Drafted 160th, 2018) has struggled in his first season in North America (7-14-3. 3.43 GAA, .893).
Grand Rapids has not missed the playoffs since 2012.
The 31-year-old Hellberg was the Nashville Predators’ second-round pick in 2011. He played one game for the Predators in 2013-14 and three more for the New York Rangers in 2014-15 and 2016-17. His career NHL statistics: 1-0, 2.70 goals-against average and .868 save percentage.
In his five seasons in the KHL, Hellberg has posted save percentages of .926, .940, .927, .930 and .917. He posted 24 shutouts during his five KHL seasons, including five for his Sochi team this season. Before settling into European competition, Hellberg played 187 American Hockey League games with a .917 save percentage.
Hellberg will be an unrestricted free agent when this contract is over. But he could view this as an audition to earn another Red Wings’ deal. Thomas Greiss and Pickard are both potential unrestricted free agents. Sebastian Cossa is expected to be one of the Grand Rapids goalies next season.
Hellberg played for the Swedish Olympic team in February. He also was 3-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .938 save percentage while helping Sweden win the 2018 World Ice Hockey Championship.