The Carolina Hurricanes called up goalie of the future Alex Nedeljkovic for the first time yesterday. Is it time for him to shine?
In order to become one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes have seen excellent goaltending from Cam Ward. The veteran has steered his career back on track and put together a solid enough season to keep Carolina fighting for a wild card spot. However, despite his great performances, there is cause for concern.
Cam Ward has started 19 games in a row for the Hurricanes and looks to be making his 20th straight start tonight against the Blue Jackets. For a goalie with relatively recent injury issues, that’s concerning. Even though backup Eddie Lack has once again started practicing, his return is still up in the air.
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Enter in Alex Nedeljkovic. The 21-year-old goalie was the Hurricanes 2nd round selection in 2014 and has put together a great junior hockey resume. If you remember, he was the standout goalie at last year’s World Junior Championships. Now, for the first time, Nedeljkovic will suit up for a regular-season NHL game.
This year has certainly been anything but smooth for the youngster. In his first professional season, he has been pretty rocky in net for the Charlotte Checkers. Currently, he is sporting a gaudy .884 save percentage with 3.30 goals against per game in the AHL. It hasn’t all been his fault, though. The Checkers overall have had a crazy year with lots of roster turnover. Many goalies would struggle in that situation. Still, it isn’t what was expected from the heir apparent to Ward.
Nedeljkovic even spent some time in the ECHL this season with the Florida Everblades. Down in the third tier of professional hockey, he managed to find more success, tallying a save percentage of .921 over 3 games. He even scored a goal. No for real, check it out.
With his call-up for the Hurricanes, the question on everyone’s mind is will we see a cameo from Nedeljkovic with Ward being overworked? More than likely, no. Michael Leighton was serving back up for Ward but was sent down to get some playing time as Nedeljkovic was called up. It is extremely likely that Leighton is just down there to get a game or two and pop back up to the NHL.
With that being said, anything is possible. With a couple high scoring opponents in the Blue Jackets and Penguins on the horizon, there is always a possibility Cam Ward gets chased. If that happens, Alex Nedeljkovic will mind the net for the Carolina Hurricanes.