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2014 NHL Draft Profile: Alex Nedeljkovic

Rena Laverty

The Player

Alex Nedeljkovic

Goalie

Plymouth Whalers(OHL)

2013-2014 stats: 61 games played 2.88 goals against average, .925 save percentage.

Height: 5'11.75"  Weight: 190 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 4th among NA goalies

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Nedeljkovic combines solid positioning with great quickness and athleticism to make a lot of saves. He's a butterfly-style goalie with great strength and quickness in his legs that does an excellent job of taking away the lower parts of the net. In two seasons in the OHL, he put up fantastic numbers with save percentages over .920 both years.

The biggest flaw with Nedeljkovic is that he's not-quite-six-feet tall in an era where most goalies are 6'3" or 6'4" behemoths. There's concern that he won't be able to take up enough of the net to stop pucks against NHL-caliber shooters.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

Nedeljkovic put himself on the NHL radar when he performed admirably in the OHL as a 16-year-old as the best option on a Plymouth team with shaky goaltending. He put up stellar numbers again for Plymouth this past season, but didn't really grow much, which was one of the biggest concerns about his future. He was named to the US squad for the World U18 championships, and helped the team to a gold medal, playing every significant minute of the tournament. It's tough to nitpick a goalie that won a gold medal, though he had a few lapses that made the US run to gold more strenuous than it needed to be.

Draft projection?

Nedeljkovic is by many accounts the second best goalie available in the draft.  But size has become so important for goalies at the NHL level that he may be passed by some other goalies on draft day. Drafting any goalie is a huge gamble because of how infrequently they pan out. Teams may be more interested in taking a home run swing by picking a less established goalie that is seen as having higher long-term potential. Nedeljkovic seems like a third or fourth pick at this point.

Pro upside?

There's really not much of a range for goaltending prospects. There's certainly a chance Nedeljkovic could develop into a starting netminder, but more likely he develops into an AHL/NHL back-up tweener. Odds of reaching potential are always low for a drafted goalie, but he's got a better chance of reaching that potential than most goalies that get drafted.

Where will he play next?

Nedeljkovic will return to Plymouth for the next two seasons, and will likely begin his pro career after that. He's in the running to back-up Thatcher Demko at next year's World Juniors tournament, and one of the candidates to be the US starter at the 2016 World Juniors.