Detroit Red Wings Goalie Magnus Hellberg: Why? How?

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With an ailing Calvin Pickard still listed as day-to-day, it made sense that the Detroit Red Wings went out and inked a deal to help shore up the goaltending duties for their AHL affiliates, the Grand Rapids Griffins.  The solution they had settled on came in the form of 6’6″, 212 pound Magnus Hellberg.  Detroit announced the news on Twitter of their Wednesday afternoon acquisition:

Hellberg AHL Bound or Third Detroit Red Wings Goalie?

As time passed and numerous experts and outlets agreed this was nothing more than a minor league deal, an interview with the thirty-one-year-old Hellberg conducted by Swedish outlet Aftonbladet revealed that the sizeable Swede was sure that he was going to be a Detroit Red Wings goalie and was not bound for the Griffins.  When asked directly about his destination, Hellberg replied: “It will be the NHL. AHL is not relevant to me”.  Considering the NHL experience Magnus has under his belt, his confidence in the idea that he’s not going to Grand Rapids seems more than a little misplaced. 

Before heading to Russia to further his career in the KHL for the last four years, Hellberg managed to make his way into four NHL games across three seasons with two different teams, his draft team the Nashville Predators and the New York Rangers.  His best campaign came in 2016-17 where he recorded a 1.53 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage over two games, one of those also being the only win accredited to Hellberg throughout his NHL tenure. With this in mind and the fact that the regular Detroit Red Wings goalie tandem of Alex Nedeljkovic and Thomas Greiss is healthy and ready to go, Hellberg’s destination declaration feels dubious at best unless he knows something few others do. 

Blashill Mum Before Match

Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill met with the media before yesterday evening’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh and was asked about the new Detroit Red Wings goalie. He was tight-lipped, offering no insight into how or where Magnus Hellberg would be utilized while stating, “We’ll see what tomorrow brings and take this day by day”.  If that tomorrow goes the way Hellberg hopes, it will mean that the Wings will have three healthy goaltenders at practice in New York City.

The Red Wings have offered no further information on the matter since announcing the signing.  With the coach keeping quiet on the matter, fans and experts are left scratching their heads.  Alex Nedeljkovic was active for the match against Carolina. Unless there is something amiss with Thomas Greiss that has yet to be announced by the team, it seems very unlikely that Hellberg will see any time wearing the Winged Wheel.

The Magnus Mystery Continues

After so few details have surfaced around the Hellberg signing, it has left many questions unanswered.  Perhaps the biggest question is: How would he play for either the Red Wings or the Griffins after being acquired post-trade deadline?  Considering he is coming back from the KHL, Hellberg was not already under NHL contract to start this season. 

If he were, Hellberg would be eligible to play in either the NHL or AHL post-deadline; however, there is another caveat that could explain Magnus’s current situation.  All NHL teams keep a reserve list.  Any player on that list is eligible to play after the trade deadline once signed.  While this answers how Hellberg can play for the Wings organization this season, it doesn’t explain why.  The likely assumption is that he was quietly sitting on Detroit’s reserve list. After clearing re-entry waivers Hellberg is now ready to suit up.  The only problem is no one knows or is unwilling to say where he will do so, aside from Hellberg’s assertion.  With only eight games left after Thursday night, the mystery should be solved soon.

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