Player: Alex Nedeljkovic
Drafted By: Carolina Hurricanes (37th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 4 North American goalie
Height/Weight: 6'0'', 186 lbs
DOB: January 7, 1996 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: OHL, Plymouth Whalers
Hailing from the great state of Ohio, Alex Nedeljkovic started gaining some attention during the 2010-11 season. He backstopped the Cleveland Barons bantam Triple-A team in 52 games and posted a stellar 1.97 GAA.
He struggled to assert himself with the Cleveland Barons U18 midget team, but he performed well enough with the Belle Tire U16 squad to go to the Plymouth Whalers in the sixth round of the 2012 OHL priority draft.
Nedeljkovic made his OHL debut as a 16-year-old, asserting himself as the No. 1 goalie for the Whalers as the 2012-13 season progressed. He finished the campaign with a 19-2-2 record and recorded a .923 save percentage.
He built on that strong showing this season, compiling a 27-7 record to go along with a .925 save percentage.
Full Scouting Report
Taller goalies might be all the rage right now in the NHL, with towering presences like Ben Bishop becoming more and more popular. Nedeljkovic doesn't have that prototypical size, but he has the speed and awareness to make up for that perceived weakness.
Nedeljkovic continues to play well and keep the Plymouth Whalers in games they don't deserve being in. The Whalers currently find themselves sitting in 8th in the West, despite being the lowest scoring team in the entire OHL. Only Spencer Martin has played more minutes this year and only Philippe Trudeau has had to make more saves, yet Nedeljkovic sits in the top 5 with a save percentage close to .915. He's not the biggest goalie (certainly doesn't have the size teams have been looking for in netminders in recent years), but his agility allows him move so well in his crease that it compensates for a lack of size (if you want to call 6'0 a lack of size).
Back in November, Future Considerations wrote this about the netminder:
Nedelijkovic might not have the prototypical size NHL teams look for but the rest of the game is making them notice. He has a strong, fluid leg push utilizes a tight compact butterfly, the ability to read the play and proactively get into solid position making him hard to beat.
Nedeljkovic is also noted for his excellent reflexes and ability to read plays as they develop—two important things to note for the smallish goalie.
NHL Player Comparison
Because of his size and ability to battle through traffic, The Sporting News' Craig Button sees Nedeljkovic as a Mike Richter-like netminder.
Get out your tarot cards if you're going to try to figure out when a goalie—any goalie—is going to be NHL-ready. Nedeljkovic isn't going to be asked to make an NHL start for at least another two years, with stints in the AHL likely. Look for him to have made his professional debut by the 2016-17 campaign.
Aggressive netminders like Nedeljkovic are always going to be compared to the likes of Richter and Tim Thomas. That's not a bad thing, as both have Stanley Cup rings, but that's clearly Nedeljkovic's ceiling. He seems to have the ability to steal games and is noted for his mental fortitude, so he could eventually develop into a strong starter at the next level.