New York Rangers UFA Target: Alex Nedeljkovic

The New York Rangers now have their head coach in place. With the hiring of Peter Laviolette to lead the squad for the 2023-24 season, the focus now shifts to the NHL Draft and signing some players.

Free agency opens on July 1 and per PuckPedia, the Blueshirts have $11,762,918 in cap space with 14 players from last season under contract. Re-signing pending RFA’s Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller will be a priority. That being said, a capable backup is a must as well.

This offseason, Forever Blueshirts has been looking at some potentially low-cost options at forward. Shifting to in between the pipes, our first potential UFA target is Alex Nedeljkovic.

New York Rangers UFA Target: Alex Nedeljkovic

Mar 30, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New York Rangers center Andrew Copp (18) skates in on Detroit Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) in the third period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Nedeljkovic, 27, had a rough campaign last year in Detroit with a record of 5-7-2. His key stats weren’t much better with a 3.53 GAA and a .895 save percentage.

These numbers are pretty shocking since he was once considered one of the top up-and-coming goalies in the NHL.

He exploded onto the scene with the Hurricanes in 2020-21 recording a .932 save percentage and a 1.90 GAA in 23 games as a 25 year-old netminder. That helped him post a solid 15-5-3 record earning him the nod as their starting goalie in the playoffs.

That postseason, he notched a 4-5 record with a GAA of 2.17 and a .920 save percentage. It would be his only playoff experience as he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Jonathan Bernier that summer.

Detroit would quickly sign him to a two-year deal with an AAV of $3 million. Unfortunately, the young Red Wings and their issues on defense did not help Nedeljkovic improve on his game.

In 2021-22, he would post respectable numbers going 20-24-9. His GAA was 3.31 with a .901 save percentage. A far cry from the goalie that opened eyes with his mid-season boost for the Canes the year prior.

Now he’s a pending UFA and what better way for him to resurrect his career by signing a one-year deal to backup Shesterkin while learning from goalie guru Benoit Allaire.

If the Rangers can get him to take $1.5 million or less, it could be extremely beneficial for both sides. A strong showing with the Rangers would allow Nedeljkovic to parlay that into a multi-year deal elsewhere.

A win-win situation in my book.