Magnus Hellberg is coming to Detroit to play for the Red Wings. That’s what the Swedish netminder is telling Swedish news outlet Aftonbladet.
“Yes, I’m trying to live in the present,” Hellberg said. “There are nine games left with Detroit and I do not know how many games I will have to play. But that’s where my focus is now.
“Then we’ll see.”
Expectations were that when the Red Wings were announcing the signing of the 31-year-old Swedish netminder on Wednesday that Hellbeg was crossing the Atlantic Ocean to help out the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins in their pursuit of an AHL playoff spot. The Griffins are without No. 1 goalie Calvin Pickard, out with an undisclosed injury. It’s possible that Pickard won’t play again this season.
However, in his interview with Aftonbladet, Hellberg is insisting that’s not the case at all.
Magnus Hellberg: ‘AHL Not Relevant To Me’
“It will be the NHL,” Magnus Hellberg said. “[The] AHL is not relevant to me.”
The Red Wings will be needing a backup goaltender for next season, so this can be looked upon as Hellberg’s audition for the role. While Alex Nedeljkovic is signed through next season, Thomas Greiss will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
UPDATE: The #RedWings today signed goaltender Magnus Hellberg to a one-year contact.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 13, 2022
Hellberg’s contract is for a pro-rated $800,000. The pact takes effect immediately and runs until the conclusion of the season.
“That’s right,” he told Aftonbladet. “Then I become a free agent after that.”
A second-round choice (38th) overall of the Nashville Predators in the 2011 NHL entry draft, Hellberg is a massive netminder at 6-foot-6 and 209 pounds.
Playing the past five seasons in the KHL, Hellberg never finished a season posting a save percentage of less than .917. He also put up 24 shutouts over that five-year span. With SKA St. Petersburg during the 2018-19 season, Hellberg was sharing the net with current New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin.
World Champion With Sweden
He was playing for Sweden at the 2022 Winter Olympics and also ended backstopping the Swedes to the 2018 world title.
Hellberg’s NHL resume isn’t nearly as impressive. He’s seen action in four games – one for the Predators and three for the Rangers. Hellberg is showing an .868 save percentage as an NHL.
“The dream is to play in the NHL full time,” Hellberg said. “If you compare with how I was during my last stay in the USA, I think I am a completely different goalkeeper today. I’m much better now.”
The Red Wings are offering Hellberg a chance to prove that.
“We will see a little what happens, but now that this opportunity arose, it felt like an obvious choice to say yes,” Hellberg said.