Goaltender Who Helped Avalanche Win Stanley Cup Back In The West After Big Trade

Colorado Hockey Now

Darcy Kuemper wasn’t with the Avalanche for a long time, but he sure accomplished a lot with them in less than a year.

Acquired from Arizona for a first round pick, a third round pick, and Connor Timmins on July 1, 2021, Kuemper went on to have a fantastic regular season with the Avalanche, finishing as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. His playoffs were a little uneven, mostly because he could barely see out of his right eye after Ryan Johansen’s stick poked him in the first round, but he did enough to help the team win the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.

Game Six against the Lightning was the last game Kuemper played for the Avalanche, as he signed a big five-year, $26,250,000 contract with the Washington Capitals when free agency opened. His first year in Washington was okay, but this past season was a bit of a disaster, as he struggled with injuries and ultimately lost his starting job to Charlie Lindgren.

He’s about to get another chance at a starting job on the other side of the country.

On Wednesday, the Capitals and Los Angeles Kings essentially swapped problem contracts. Kuemper will head to LA, while Pierre-Luc Dubois will get (another) fresh start with the Capitals. The Kings have been desperate to find a goaltender that could help them, at the very least, get out of the first round. Is Kuemper that guy? He has been in the past, but at 34 years old and coming off the worst season of his career, it’s far from a sure thing.

Even if he doesn’t find his game again, this trade might be a win for Los Angeles. They gave up some good pieces last summer to acquire Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets, and after giving him an eight-year, $68 million contract, he was a massive disappointment, putting up just 40 points in 82 games, spending most of his time in the bottom six. There were rumors that the Kings were considering buying out his contract once the Stanley Cup Final ends, which would have impacted their salary cap for years, so getting rid of the deal entirely doesn’t look too bad right now. Dubois has seven years left on his contract, while Kuemper has three years remaining on his, so at the very least, they’ve shortened the pain.

Last summer, we had discussed the idea of the Avalanche acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois to fix their second line center problem. That didn’t happen, and that’s probably for the best. At 25 (soon to be 26), he’s now on his fourth NHL team. Is this the team that can finally unlock the extremely talented Dubois and help him finally find some consistency in his game? I doubt it, but from the Capitals point of view, it makes some sense to try. With Alex Ovechkin heading towards the end of his career, they know they’re likely in line for a big rebuild soon. Might as well take a chance on a talented center and see if you can make it work.

Next year’s NHL schedule won’t be released for another week or so, but the Avalanche will probably play Kuemper and the Kings at least three times next season.

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