DETROIT -- On July 22, the day before the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Detroit Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman got the offseason goalie carousel started with a trade that surprised the hockey world.
The Red Wings acquired 25-year-old goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and the free-agent rights to goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Detroit then followed up minutes later by announcing that it had signed Nedeljkovic to a two-year contract.
"Obviously, we have high hopes for Alex based on his performance this year in Carolina" Yzerman said after the trade on July 22. "We're pretty excited about it. He did very well this year. Everyone in our organization is familiar with him from his local ties, playing junior, so we know his character, his work ethic, his competitiveness, and watching him play this year, we felt it was a good opportunity to get somewhat of a younger goaltender with still some upside and can help us win more games."
Video: Welcome to Detroit, new goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic!
The young goalie burst onto the scene last season as he compiled a 15-5-3 record, 1.90 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in 23 games for the Central Division-champion Hurricanes.
He helped lead Carolina past the Nashville Predators in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and finished third in Calder Trophy voting as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.
With the stability of a multi-year contact and a chance to return to Michigan - after playing three years with the OHL's Plymouth Whalers and spending a decade of offseasons in the state - Nedeljkovic is ready for a new challenge as the Red Wings' goalie.
Video: Alex Nedeljkovic on joining the Detroit Red Wings
"We were very excited and very happy that things worked out," Nedeljkovic said on July 23 during his introductory press conference. "I couldn't have been more excited to get back here and be able to call it home year-round."
The other piece of the goalie tandem for Detroit this season is 35-year-old netminder Thomas Greiss, who begins his second campaign donning the Winged Wheel.
After some early-season struggles for the veteran, Greiss was brilliant over the final five weeks of the 2020-21 season.
In his final 12 appearances (11 starts), Greiss went 6-1-4 with a 1.67 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and two shutouts. His performance also earned him the NHL's First Star of the Week honors for the first week of May.
Video: TBL@DET: Greiss records shutout vs. Lightning
"Just playing better, getting a couple of bounces," Greiss said after a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on May 1. "Those bounces weren't going my way at the beginning of the year and now they're going my way."
With the veteran presence of Greiss, who has experienced plenty of success in his 12-year NHL career, along with an emerging young talent like Nedeljkovic, the Red Wings are confident that no matter who's in net, the team will be in good hands for the upcoming 2021-22 season.