Carolina Hurricanes and the Intriguing Tale of Two Goalies

Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

For years the Carolina Hurricanes have had their struggles between the pipes, but these two players could bring an end to that constant problem.

We can all appreciate what James Reimer and Petr Mrazek have done for the team this year. However, they’re not the goalies I want to talk about. I mean Alex Nedeljkovic and Pytor Kochetkov. How can these two prospects change the Carolina Hurricanes franchise for the better? Well, there’s a lot to dive into regarding these two.

Let’s start with the man of Serbian descent, Nedeljkovic. We’ve seen him in the NHL this year and he did not look out of place in the slightest. A former winner of the Aldege Bastien Award as the AHL’s best goaltender, there’s nothing in the AHL that Ned hasn’t won. A former Calder cup champion, he’s outgrown the league and needs a shot in the NHL as soon as possible.

Nedeljkovic has posted a .906 in the AHL this year and a .887 in the NHL. Not a great start, but he put up a .916 in the AHL last year, and a .923 in the NHL last year. It’s clear to see he’s capable of playing at the top level. Nedeljkovic is also 24 years old, he needs to be in the NHL soon if he’s ever gonna make the big league.

Moving from one prospect to the other, Pytor Kochetkov. Kochetkov is considerably younger than Nedeljkovic, at just 20 years of age. Kochetkov is also performing at a much more difficult level. Posting a .917 on a bad team in the KHL, Kochetkov shows a lot of promise. His only issue is that he cannot get a starting role. He’s moved around from team to team.

As the 2nd round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2019, 36th overall, Kochetkov has a lot of hype to live up to. In his limited sample size across a couple of leagues in Western Europe, he’s managing to perform well.

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Kochetkov came 3rd in the 2018-19 World Junior Championships with his native Russian team, and the big red machines goalie did not disappoint in that tournament. Posting a 0.953 save percentage and 1.45 goals-against average, Kochetkov was a star for the Russian team. This tournament really made Kochetkov as a player and as a potential NHLer, as his talent was shown on the big stage.

All his league stats prior to that tournament are in small sizes but very good. 18 games in the VHL with HK Ryazan posting 2.13 goals against and a .930 save percentage. 31 games in the MHL with Kapitan Stupino and posting 3.28 goals against with a .917 save percentage as a 17-year-old. It’s very impressive stuff from the big Russian.

So, which goalie has more upside? Right now I think Kochetkov, just because he’s been so dominant. He’s only 20 years old, and his talents are just so promising. This isn’t to say Ned doesn’t have upside, but I think Nedeljkovic is going to need to make the jump soon, or else he could be passed in the pecking order really quickly by Pytor Kochetkov.

But with his next season a one-way deal, I would say that Ned will probably own the net by the time Pytor shows up to Raleigh.

Either way, I think it’s safe to say the Canes are set for the long term with their goaltending. Even if one doesn’t work, the other should. I didn’t include any of the other Hurricanes prospects in this list either. Problems in the crease should hopefully be gone soon for a long time.

Question for Cardiac Cane readers: Are you more excited for Nedeljkovic or Kochetkov?

Next. Is Reimer the Key to the Postseason?. dark