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Canadiens Could Pluck Interesting Goalie On Waivers

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens love their reclamation projects and their need for goaltending could see them tempted by a notable name recently put on waivers.

The Detroit Red Wings continue to place some big names on waivers lately, following up the demotion of Jakub Vrana with that of Alex Nedeljkovic on Sunday afternoon.

The 27-year-old goaltender, who put up some incredible numbers playing with the Carolina Hurricanes two years ago, simply hasn’t found his game in Detroit since being acquired in the summer of 2021.

The former 2nd-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has seen a significant dip in performance this season, and, with the acquisition of Ville Husso this summer, many thought the writing was on the wall; but nobody expected this.

Carrying a contract of $3M until the end of this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent, Nedeljkovic could be an interesting gamble for the Canadiens, who have had trouble finding consistency in the goaltending department.

Despite already having Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault, the Canadiens could easily hold three goaltenders if they chose to, as they now have the roster flexibility with Brendan Gallagher, Sean Monahan and Kaiden Guhle all on IR.

As for cap space, the Canadiens currently have about $800,000 in cap space since Cayden Primeau’s emergency recall. However, once Monahan, Allen and Matheson return to the lineup within a week or two, the Canadiens would have over 3.5M at the very least in LTIR space; plenty enough to absorb Nedeljkovic’s contract.

If not, due to his injury keeping him out for over six weeks, bringing us to the NHL Trade Deadline, Brendan Gallagher could be put on LTIR, freeing up $6.5M for the six weeks that the Canadiens rugged winger is sidelined. By the NHL Trade Deadline, the Canadiens will have unloaded a contract or two, allowing them to activate Gallagher and retain Nedeljkovic in their lineup.

But what if waivers isn’t the only way?

Alternative Option

However, should Nedeljkovic clear waivers, the Montreal Canadiens could swing a minor-league deal in order to send a contract to Detroit that could even off the cap hit and roster slots, making for a more palatable acquisition; say moving Evgenii Dadonov at 50% retained to make room.

By making the move via the minors, the Canadiens could help Nedeljkovic find his game in Laval and then call him up when appropriate to see whether he could be part of the future.

It’s very rare to have a player of Nedeljkovic’s reputation on waivers at this time, and the fact that he is a free agent this summer offers the Canadiens a perfect no-risk move to test the 27-year-old prior to the end of the season.

Alex Nedeljkovic was once in the running for the Calder Trophy during the 2020-2021 season with the Hurricanes where he posted a 0.932 save percentage and a 1.90 goals-against average in 23 regular season games; before following that up with a 0.920 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average in nine playoff games.

He was then promptly traded to Detroit, when the Hurricanes sought out cheaper alternatives, and hasn’t been the same since.

Perhaps a change of scenery is exactly what the doctor ordered.

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habbernack

If they wanted a 3 goalie system cheaper , just bring up Primeau. This is nonsense.

B Seney

Maybe this guy would give them the option to trade Sllen.

Billy739

Depends on how you define interesting.
Not that this goalie is bad , he’s just never succeeded outside a Trio.
Why would you want to invest in someone with consistency issues?

Only was i see this working is if DET is already acquiring a player we’re trading at the Trade Deadline. We’d send him to Laval with Primeau and forget about him for the right price. But Vrana makes more sense and could serve the same role to Slafkovsky as Armia did with Kotkanemi

I’d like to see a deal for Zadina , 1st round pick 2024 and we’ll take Vrana buried salary of 4.25m for Mysak. Similar to the Monahan dump so they can acquire UFAs this summer to round out their roster. With the exception of swapping Zadina for Mysak who’s younger by 3 years and wont be subject to Waivers for some time unlike Zadina who as of this year requires them. Zadina is constantly Injured and underachieving in DET and while trading him might not change things swapping these players is a gamble that can work out for both teams.

Mysak like Evans will need another 1-2 years in the AHL to adjust to his role as a bottom 6 Center after playing most of his career in the top 6 even as top line Center and Captain for Team Czechia last summer. While keeping him is a priority for MTL we have Owen Beck , Riley Kidney and Oli Kapanen all competing for the same spot in our depth chart. That was before Sean Farrell moved full time to Center the top NCAA line with 2 top 10 ranked Hobey Baker Favorites on it according to NCAA and NHL rankings. Mysak like Mesar will be pushed to Wing if he stays in our system .

Swapping prospects for many reasons makes sense but none more then for Developmental reason. Zadina very well could become our next Jonathon Drouin thats a gamble for sure but he also could be our next Paul Byron squeezing out 4-5 good seasons before his injury issues becomes too much of a burden. Or maybe he just gets waived and either Claimed or buried with MTL losing out on an asset like Mysak .

Tyrone

I was pretty shocked to see Nedeljkovic put on waivers. I know he hasn’t achieved the success he found in Carolina, but to basically give him away for free puts up some big red flags for me. Yzerman is a brilliant hockey guy, so if he can’t trade him for anything, and would rather just get rid of him for nothing, I’d have to trust he knows something we don’t. Also, don’t forget that Carolina let him go after he was nominated for rookie of the year. That has to mean something too. Sure would love to be a fly on the wall in some rooms to find out the real story on this guy.

Alex

Ned plays a game that doesn’t work well in today’s NHL. He played in front of a top 5 team which inflated him, flipping to a bottom 10 deflated.

From the Detroit side there’s no benefit in any of the posted trade scenarios here. They don’t need cap space or more warm bodies, there’s a reason they are waiving surprising names.

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