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Red Wings Yzerman: In Today’s NHL, Two Goalies Are Better Than One

Expect both Alex Nedeljkovic and Ville Husso to see plenty of action in net for the Red Wings

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Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red-Wings
Alex Nedeljkovic played a career-high 59 games for the Red Wings last season.

The Detroit Red Wings are going into the upcoming NHL season uncertain of who their No. 1 goalie will be and GM Steve Yzerman is fine with that reality.

In fact, Yzerman is of the belief that having two quality NHL goaltenders might just be better than having a No. 1.

“There’s so much responsibility on the goaltender,” Yzerman said. “It’s a hard position to play. There’s a lot of pressure on them, regardless of who they are.”

Last season, circumstances – mostly the various injuries and illnesses that felled Thomas Greiss – ended up forcing Alex Nedeljkovic to tend the Detroit goal in a total of 59 games.

It was a hefty workload, one that Nedeljkovic had never faced before as a pro. And the impact of that workload took a toll on the 26-year-old netminder.

“I don’t think you really understand the grind, the mental grind an 82-game season in the NHL is,” Nedeljkovic said. “I played a lot of games before. In junior I played 50-60 games a season. In the American League I played 55, almost 60 games a season, went through a long run playoff run in the American League and in junior, too.

“I’ve played a lot of hockey before but nothing like this. You can’t really compare it.”

Nedeljkovic saw the impact that workload made on the consistency in his performance.

“It was pretty up and down,” he said of his 2021-22 campaign. “I don’t want to say . . . it wasn’t a bad season by any means. It wasn’t great. It was just kind of in between there. I thought there were nights I was feeling really good about my game. And there was a bit of a stretch there where I was kind of doing too much, fighting the puck and things were just going in from every which way and any which way.”

Husso’s Arrival Should Balance Workload In Red Wings Net

The NHL schedule is much more compact now. Gone are the days when netminders such as Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Grant Fuhr could log upwards of 70 games per season.

“There’s a handful of goalies that play 60 games, maybe 62 but not that many,” Yzerman said. “You look at some parts of the schedule, we go every second day. Ideally, you have a great starter and a great backup.”

It was with this in mind that Yzerman moved quickly at the NHL entry draft to acquire pending UFA Ville Husso from the St. Louis Blues. Just as rapidly, Yzerman got the 27-year-old goaltender’s name signed to a multi-year contract.

“The league has kind of shown you need your backup to go in and win games,” Yzerman said. “You need a goalie to go in and win games for you, whether you’re playing back to backs, or four in six nights on the road.”

Who Will Be Detroit’s Go-To Goalie?

Which one of Detroit’s goalie will be the top guy, and which one will be filling the secondary role? The reality is, perhaps neither will be taking on either traditional role.

It’s entirely possible that the workload will be split relatively evenly. In any case, it’s doubtful that either puckstopper will play as many as 50 games, should both goalies maintain their health.

“We need depth at that position,” Yzerman said. “We think we have two young guys that can go in there and play. How the games get divided up, I’m sure performance will dictate that a bit, but they’re both gonna play.”

Get Ready For Some Healthy Red Wings Competition

Look around at Detroit’s roster and there will be competition for roster spots, playing time and roles on the team.

It’s going to be no different between the pipes. And both goalies are fine what that fact of life.

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“Yeah, it’s always nice to have good guy or goalie partner with you,” Husso said. “Me and (Jordan) Binnington were pushing each other every day (in St. Louis). I think that’s one thing I learned from him.

“With Alex, I want to do the same thing. Push each other every day in practices and games. We want to get better every day.”

Nedeljkovic believes that sharing the net with a capable partner can only improve the quality of his own work.

“Mainly I just want to be more consistent,” Nedeljkovic said. That’s the goal . . . to find a way to be more consistent and to have something every night and to give us a chance to win every night.”

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