The Detroit Red Wings only have two goaltenders signed to National Hockey League contracts for the 2022–23 season: Alex Nedeljkovic and Sebastian Cossa.
Currently representing Sweden at the 2022 IIHF World Championship in Finland, Magnus Hellberg is making an excellent case to become the third.
Hellberg, 31, has established himself as the starting goaltender for Team Sweden at the 2022 Worlds. He’s been outstanding, winning all four of his starts thus far and posting a sparkling .932 save percentage.
Even with Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark now at their disposal for the rest of the tournament, Team Sweden elected to go back to Hellberg for its game against Team Norway on Sunday.
Hellberg stopped all but one of the 20 shots he faced as the Swedes emerged victorious by a 7–1 score. Sweden currently ranks second in Group B with four regulation wins, one overtime win, and one overtime loss through six games.
William Nylander wasted no time in contributing to Sweden's winning ways in Sunday night’s 7-1 victory over Norway.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 22, 2022
Even beyond his World Championship dominance, Hellberg is a worthy candidate to share the Red Wings’ crease with Nedeljkovic next season.
For one, he already knows the organization. Hellberg joined the Red Wings with around three weeks remaining in the 2021–22 season, getting plenty of reps in with the team’s staff and even making a start in the season finale.
“I came here pretty late in the season, wanted to show what I can do. It’s a great group of guys in there, they welcomed me really well from the start,” Hellberg said at the time. “I’ve been here a couple weeks now, I got to see the facilities, the staff around the team, the guys.
“I think Detroit has a really bright future and of course it would be a place I would like to be a part of in the future,” Hellberg added. “I’ve had a blast these last couple weeks I’ve been here.”
Hellberg spent five seasons in North America after being drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2011 before leaving for the Kontinental Hockey League in 2017.
He established himself as a top-end KHL goalie with Kunlun Red Star, SKA St. Petersburg, and (most recently) HC Sochi during his five seasons in the league.
Hellberg posted a 13–20–4 record and a .917 save percentage in 37 games with HC Sochi — one of the KHL’s worst teams — in 2021–22. The Uppsala, Sweden product also suited up for a pair of games with Team Sweden at the 2022 Winter Olympics men’s ice hockey tournament, going 1–1–0 with a .927 save percentage.
If the Red Wings re-sign Hellberg, he probably won’t cost a whole lot. The 6’5″, 209-lb. netminder only has five NHL games under his belt. While he wouldn’t be a bad bet for the Red Wings to make, he’d also be far from a sure bet.
That being said, the Red Wings are in serious need of help at the goaltending position. Cossa is still a few years away, and Nedeljkovic can’t do it all by himself. Even if Victor Brattstrom sticks around in Grand Rapids, the Red Wings will need to sign at least two more goaltenders to fill out their organization.
Magnus Hellberg has earned an extended look in the Red Wings organization. He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July, but the Red Wings should try their best to retain his services.
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