Red Wings Role Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature goalie Alex Nedeljkovic
2021-22 totals (59 Games Played – 52 Games Started – Record (20-24-9) – Save % (.901)
Contract Status: Signed through 2022-23 at $3M AAV
After a brutal season defensively for the Red WIngs, Alex Nedeljkovic had one of the most candid quotes of the season during his final interview with the assembled media. When asked about how the Red Wings could improve defensively, here’s how he answered:
“It will be better. I’ll just tell you that right now. It’s gonna be better. We’re not gonna be in this position next year, I don’t care if everything stays the same. If nothing were to change from how the season ended to next year, I wasn’t gonna allow that to happen again. I’m not gonna allow that to happen again.”
Nedeljkovic has been one of the vocal leaders during press conferences and his last one was no different. In spite of a rough season, the 26-year-old netminder owns it all and with a better defense, should see his numbers improve drastically.
2021-22 Red Wings Highlight(s)
Barely a month ago, Nedeljkovic blanked the high powered Carolina Hurricanes in a 3-0 Red Wings victory. He also had his share of utter larceny of sure goals, early on against Alex DeBrincat and another on Seattle’s Morgan Geekie.
Alex Nedeljkovic posted a 46-save shutout, trailing only Terry Sawchuk (50 on Nov. 14, 1959) for the most in a shutout performance by a @DetroitRedWings goaltender (since 1955-56 when shots on goal were officially tracked).#NHLStats: https://t.co/7MM1NhG0Pv pic.twitter.com/vKghGBdNO3
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 15, 2022
2021-22 Red Wings Lowlight
Nedeljkovic is pulled after surrendering three goals against Toronto in the first 12 minutes. After Thomas Greiss is shelled to the tune of four goals, Nedeljkovic goes back in and ends up giving up three more. Detroit would lose 10-7 after a valiant comeback attempt.
What does his Detroit future hold?
It’s simple to see from the way he answers questions why Steve Yzerman acquired him. Not only is Nedeljkovic overwhelmingly positive, but he’s always seeking ways to improve. At just 26, he’s candid in his responses and he’s the type of player Yzerman recruits–giving every ounce of effort he has.
His numbers were down from a year ago, but he played over two-and-a-half more games on a team where the defense struggled to keep pace with the opponent’s best players. Nedeljkovic however, won’t use it as an excuse. When asked about the tough stretch he went through, Nedeljkovic owned it.
“It’s my job to stop the puck, it’s my job to keep us in games and help us win games every single night,” he said.
“I understand that. If you want to be a great goalie in this league, you have to do that every single night.”
With an improved defensive corps, it’s only rational to believe that Nedeljkovic stands to benefit from it more than anyone else on the ice. Regardless of his numbers this season, he’s still undeniably the number one in Detroit for next season and beyond.
With Yzerman expecting Sebastian Cossa to take his time, Nedeljkovic has the chance to cement himself as the leader between the pipes for years to come.