Carolina Hurricanes: Alex Nedeljkovic and his future starts now

The Carolina Hurricanes were supposed to acquire a goalie by 3 p.m on Monday. But they didn’t. Surely their prize rookie netminder, Alex Nedeljkovic, can’t handle an NHL playoff run, can he?

Once Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour deemed co-starters Petr Mrazek and James Reimer “out longer term”, the rumor-mill pumped out stories faster than you can say “Zamboni driver”.

The day before the deadline, the sky was falling in ‘Canes Country while social media was abuzz with trade talk involving all sorts of random names. But once the early flurries of Monday’s trades turned blizzard-like, talk about the Hurricanes acquiring a goalie started to fade. Finally, when the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Robin Lehner, all that goalie chatter came to a screeching halt.

Although the story of emergency goaltender David Ayres was certainly heart-warming, in no way was he going to carry this team to the playoffs. You’d have better luck with the walrus from the car insurance commercial than Dave the Zamboni man.

Enter Alex Nedeljkovic. If you have never heard of him, aside from the fact that his name guarantees a blowout victory in Scrabble, he certainly brings a lot to the table.

The 24-year old from Ohio known as “Ned” was originally drafted 37th overall in 2014. He was dubbed the American Hockey League Goalie of the Year and First Team All-Star last season.

Although these shiny awards will glisten proudly on his mantlepiece, there is a different accolade that will help the big squad during their playoff run: his role with the Charlotte Checkers’ 2019 AHL championship team. And more specifically, the 66 games and 3,814 minutes of ice time he reliably chewed up.

Here’s what Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour had to say about Nedeljkovic.

“Goalies are insurance,” Brind’Amour said. “We felt great coming into camp that we had too many. Suddenly now, we have just the right amount. We feel really good about both of them. I’m sure they will both see action. We’re real confident in both of these guys.”

Many deemed the Carolina Hurricanes big winners on trade deadline day with acquisitions of a top-6 center, and two top-4 defensemen. But it shouldn’t matter what kind of skaters you get if your goaltender is unreliable, right? Right – and after witnessing Ned’s sharp reflexes, clean angles, and clever puck-handling abilities; any uncertain Caniac can rest assured that his name and career will both be described in a similar fashion: Ridiculously long.