DENVER, COLORADO – JUNE 24: Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Colorado Avalanche looks on during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Five of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Ball Arena on June 24, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With the NHL season moving well into it’s second month of play, it’s prudent to take a critical look at the Darcy Keumper deal to see what kind of impact Kuemper has made so far.  The Capitals started this season looking more like a MASH unit and with 15 games down, they’ve admitted more patients to their hospital ward with callups from the AHL becoming a regular routine.

Darcy Kuemper’s record- decent but not stellar.

If you’re looking to see if Darcy Kuemper has ever won a Vezina Trophy, you will be surprised tha the highest he’s even been was a finalist after the 2019-20 season. Keumper started with the Minnesota Wild back in the 2012-13 season and played a career-high 57 regular season games with the Colorado Avalanche last season-yes, the reigning Stanley Cup champions. While looking at the plethora of almost-superhuman goaltenders throughout the NHL, Kuemper stands out as a solid, effective but not necessarily stellar performer.  Simply put: he gets the job done. 

How has Kuemper fared in DC so far?

Again, Darcy Kuemper has shown us that he’s a good but not necessarily great netminder.  That being said, goalies need both offensive and defensive support and can’t really win games all by themselves.  With the Capitals being gutted due to injuries, they fell recently to the listless Pittsburgh Penguins who had a seven game losing streak going in.  Kuemper had little offensive firepower support in this game and the Caps’ power play fell simply flat.

Against the Edmonton Oilers, the Cap’s man-advantage unit was four out of five and then turned around and batted O for four against the Penguins.  The Caps also gave up a penalty kill goal in the loss to Pittsburgh as well – again, not necessarily the direct fault of a goalie like Darcy Kuemper.

In eleven games defending the pipes, Kuemper has a sub-par 4-6-1 record with a decent 2.47 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.(Note: Kuemper and the Capitals had a great night on Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a big 5-1 victory. Kuemper even had a shot on goal to round off a great win.)  Remember when the Caps’ front office was excited about acquring Kuemper after the big Stanley Cup win?  Well, those four wins and one overtime loss is costing the Capitals $5.25 million dollars a year for the next five seasons.

The Capitals spent a lot of money to get Darcy Keumper.

Again, I’m not advocating any type of goaltending change as the Capitals have invested in Darcy Kuemper as a key to this franchise for a number of years to come.  However, backup netminder Charlie Lindgren holds a little better 2-1-1 record with a 3.28 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage which is costing the Capitals $3.3 million dollars over the next three years.  Dollar for dollar, Lindgren is the better investment-so far.

With the early season already in disarray with a myriad of injuries, line changes and AHL callups almost a daily occurrence, it will take time to see if the Kuemper deal was a worthwhile investment for this franchise.  Based on his longevity in the NHL and success with the Avs last season, Darcy Kuemper may well turn out to be a great investment in defending the pipes for the Washington Capitals and this move may help push his career towards joining the  NHL goaltending elites.



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