It’s been quite the year for Alex Nedeljkovic. The Canes’ rookie netminder went from going unclaimed on waivers at the start of the season, to earning a top role with the Canes following Petr Mrazek’s injury to the starter of the Canes’ first eight playoff games.
And now he’ll have a chance to pick up some hardware, as the NHL announced Nedeljkovic, along with Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild and Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars, will be one of three finalists for this year’s Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.
Nedeljkovic’s .932 save percentage led NHL goalies that played at least 15 games in the regular season, and his 1.90 goals-against average was the lowest. He went 15-5-3 in 23 starts. Nedeljkovic is the Canes’ second Calder Finalist in Hurricanes team history, and first since Jeff Skinner in 2010-11.
The official release from the team follows:
NEDELJKOVIC SELECTED AS CALDER TROPHY FINALIST
Joins Turgeon and Skinner as third Calder Trophy finalist in franchise history
RALEIGH, N.C. – The National Hockey League today announced that Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic has been selected as one of the three finalists for the 2020-21 Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. The other finalists for the Calder Trophy are Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov and Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson. The winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup Semifinals or Stanley Cup Final, with date and time to be determined.
Nedeljkovic, 25, completed his first full NHL season in 2020-21, posting a 15-5-3 record, 1.90 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and three shutouts in 23 starts. During the regular season, the 6’0”, 190-pound goaltender led all NHL netminders with at least 15 games played in both goals-against average and save percentage and set the franchise-record single-season marks in both categories. Nedeljkovic’s .932 save percentage marked the second-highest in NHL history by a rookie making at least 15 starts, trailing only Martin Jones’ .934 mark with Los Angeles in 2013-14. His three shutouts ranked tied for fifth in the NHL and fell one shy of tying Peter Sidorkiewicz (1988-89: 4) for the single-season franchise record by a rookie. Nedeljkovic was also selected as the winner of the Josef Vasicek Award, given annually by the Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association for outstanding cooperation with the local media.
Nedeljkovic stopped all 24 shots he faced against Tampa Bay on Feb. 20 for his first career NHL/Hurricanes shutout. He was then named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for March after posting a 6-1-1 record that month and leading all NHL rookie goaltenders with a 1.85 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. He won four consecutive starts for the first time in his career from March 3 to March 14, including a 44-save performance at Florida on March 1. Nedeljkovic tallied his first career NHL/Hurricanes point with an assist on Dougie Hamilton’s overtime goal against Columbus on May 1, marking the third overtime assist by a goaltender in franchise history.
Nedeljkovic has started all eight games for Carolina during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, earning a 4-4 record with a 2.18 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and one shutout. He became the first rookie goaltender in franchise history to earn a win in his NHL postseason debut in Game 1 of the First Round against Nashville and became the second to post a playoff shutout in Game 2. He also made 189 saves in the First Round, marking the most in NHL history by a rookie goaltender in a playoff series requiring fewer than seven games.
Nedeljkovic joins Sylvain Turgeon (1983-84) and Jeff Skinner (2010-11) as the third Calder Trophy finalist in franchise history. Skinner was the only Whalers/Hurricanes player to win the award.