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Alex Nedeljkovic is the second rated goaltender in our draft prospect rankings, behind only Thatcher Demko. Over the last two years, Nedeljkovic has done it all, from stealing the starting job from Matt Mahalak as a 16-year-old, to stealing playoff games against the the 2013 London Knights, to being an OHL First-Team All-Star and OHL goaltender of the year. Nedeljkovic has been stellar in his two years with Plymouth putting up a .923 save percentage as a 16-year-old and a .925 this past season.
To top it all off the Parma, Ohio native represented Team USA at the IIHF U18 World Championships where he won the gold medal, had the best GAA in the tournament and was named a top three player on the team by the American coaches. He also won a silver in last summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament.
Goalie — shoots Left — Catches — Left
Born Jan 7 1996 — Parma, OH
Height 6.00 — Weight 186 [183 cm/84 kg]
At just 6’0″ Alex Nedeljkovic has just average size for the types of goalies NHL teams seem to be drafting now, and has to make up for it with quick reflexes. He is especially strong in the lower half of the net where his butterfly style is complemented by extremely quick legs that take away most low shots. He has excellent leg strength and a strong push help him him to go side-to-side very quickly, and he tracks the puck extremely well, allowing him to close down quickly and effectively on cross ice passes. His rebound control is surprisingly well-developed for a 17-year-old, but could still use even more improvement, as is true for almost all young goalies. Still he is ahead of the majority of draft eligible goalies in this area.
Nedeljkovic has very good technique, but he is also extremely athletic and able to recover quickly if he does get caught out of positioning. Good skating allows him to challenge shooters, and recover quickly if an opponent tries to deke. A quick glove hand and a solid blocker take away the top half of the net. Nedeljkovic is extremely good at handling the puck. He plays like a third defencemen on dump-ins helping his defencemen to clear the puck, and to start the transition game. He is also able to make long passes to catch teams if they are making a poor line change.
Alex Nedeljkovic is an on-ice leader for the young Whalers team, displaying a confidence in the net that calms his teammates. He shakes off bad goals quickly, and does not allow any mistakes to get to him and he is ready to make the next save by the time the puck is dropped at centre-ice.
Nedeljkovic’s style is reminiscent of Ed Belfour. However, this is a stylistic comparison and not a talent one. Alex Nedeljkovic is likely a few years away from the NHL, but he could become an excellent starting goaltender if he reaches his ceiling.
Here are some clips of Alex Nedeljkovic in action.
Come back tomorrow to check out my #47 prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft.
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