RALEIGH -- The Carolina Hurricanes traded goalie Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, a shocking move given his outstanding rookie season.
The Hurricanes acquired the rights to unrestricted free-agent goalie Jonathan Bernier and a 2021 third-round pick for the 25-year-old Nedeljkovic, who went 15-5-3 and led the NHL with a .932 save percentage and a 1.90 goals-against average. He was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, finishing third in the voting.
The Red Wings promptly signed Nedeljkovic to a two-year contract with a $3 million cap hit annually.
Nedeljkovic was a restricted free agent and was eligible for arbitration, which was likely the catalyst for this departure.
The Hurricanes saw him play extremely well for the last three months of the season. He also fared well in the playoffs, with a 4-5 record and a .920 save percentage with a 2.17 goals-against average.
But they're also the team that sent him through waivers in January of last year, where he cleared them with a minimum salary. It's possible they saw his success as fleeting.
Given the goalie market in the NHL, and with several options available in unrestricted free agency, the Hurricanes had options and decided that paying Nedeljkovic based on his limited work history wasn't one of them, especially considering the ripple effect it could have for other deals on their roster.
The acquisition of 32-year-old Bernier, who has played for five NHL teams, means the Hurricanes still do not have a goalie under contract for next season. Both Petr Mrazek and James Reimer are unrestricted free agents as well.