The Washington Capitals finally have their number-one goaltender.
The Capitals signed 2022 Stanley Cup Champion netminder Darcy Kuemper to a five-year deal worth $5.25 million per season over 90 minutes after free agency started. The team recently traded Vitek Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils and did not extend a qualifying offer to Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the day.
NEW TENDIE IN TOWN!
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 13, 2022
“Darcy is an established starting netminder who proved that he can win on the game’s biggest stage, and we are excited to welcome him to Washington,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We feel this signing will provide our team confidence and stability in net.”
Kuemper’s new deal will net him $6 million salary his first two seasons. It was reported during the NHL Draft that he was looking for a 6x$6 million deal.
Kuemper contract with Caps
Year 1, $6 M
Year 2, $6 M
Year 3, $6 M
Year 4, $4.5 M
Year 5, $3.75 M
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 13, 2022
“I was just excited to join a group that’s won it before, that knows how to win,” Kuemper said on TSN when asked why he picked Washington. “You know, it’s obviously a veteran group where I think I can go in and help and we have a good chance of winning.”
Kuemper, 32, arrives in DC after one season with the Avalanche. Colorado could not afford to pay Kuemper his open-market price, so then-GM Joe Sakic decided to let him walk. The Capitals have been linked Kuemper since the NHL Draft.
“Winning was a dream come true… things happen quick, it’s a quick turnaround,” Kuemper added. “You’re celebrating and then all of a sudden you think about where you’ll be playing.”
Kuemper comes to the Capitals after his best and most consistent season. The Avalanche acquired the Saskatoon native from the Arizona Coyotes last summer in exchange for defender Conor Timmins, Colorado’s first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, and a conditional third.
Kuemper, in 57 starts for the Western Conference’s best team, went 37-12-4 with a .921 save percentage, 2.54 goals-against average, and five shutouts. When the calendar flipped to 2022, Kuemper played some of the best hockey of his career, second only to Igor Shesterkin in save percentage and fourth in high-danger save percentage only to Shesterkin, Ilya Sorokin, and Jake Oettinger.
Darcy Kuemper wasn’t at his best during the playoffs but he was very good in the regular. The question here is what the market will be for him as the goalie carousel is getting figured out while he is sitting out waiting for FA market to open. pic.twitter.com/MBERgCLZ1y
— Andy & Rono (@ARHockeyStats) July 12, 2022
While Kuemper was lights-out in the regular season, his performance in the postseason was not as good. Kuemper suffered an eye injury in Game Three of the team’s first-round series against the Nashville Predators when Ryan Johansen’s stick got caught in his mask.
Darcy Kuemper’s eye after Game 3 in Nashville…….. pic.twitter.com/Zc6fN6kO6D
— World Hockey Report (@worldhockeyrpt) June 30, 2022
According to Money Puck, Kuemper had the second-worst goals saved above expected number (minus-4.2) in the playoffs, finishing 29th of 30 goalies. Kuemper went 10-4 in the postseason, but posted a below average .902 save percentage. The Avs won 16 of 20 games in the loffs.
Before arriving in Denver, Kuemper played parts of four seasons for the struggling Arizona Coyotes, securing an All-Star Game appearance in 2020 and two top-ten Vezina Trophy voting finishes (2019, 2020). Before that, he spent the first five seasons of his NHL career, mainly as a backup for the Minnesota Wild.
Darcy Kuemper, signed 5x$5.25M by WSH, has been one of the best goalies in hockey in the past three seasons. Despite winning a Cup, he’s flown under the radar thanks to playing in Arizona and then suffering an eye injury in round one that hurt his play on the big stage. #AllCaps pic.twitter.com/eJT5M0cM0g
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 13, 2022
Moving forward, Kuemper should provide stability for the Capitals at a position where they’ve had none since Braden Holtby departed in 2020. Kuemper stopped 21 more goals than expected for Colorado last season while Samsonov (minus-12.1) and Vanecek (minus-5.4) combined to save 17.5 goals less than expected for the Capitals.
— NHL (@NHL) July 13, 2022
Here’s the full press release from the Capitals:
Capitals Sign Goaltender Darcy Kuemper
Stanley Cup Champion inks a five-year deal with Washington
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have signed goaltender Darcy Kuemper to a five-year, $26.25 million contract, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. Kuemper contract will carry an average annual value of $5.25 million.
“Darcy is an established starting netminder who proved that he can win on the game’s biggest stage, and we are excited to welcome him to Washington,” said MacLellan. “We feel this signing will provide our team confidence and stability in net.”
Kuemper, 32, helped the Colorado Avalanche capture the 2022 Stanley Cup. Kuemper played in 16 playoff games and posted a record of 10-4 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. During the 2021-22 regular season, Kuemper went 37-12-4 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 57 games played. The 6’5”, 215-pound netminder tied for fourth in the NHL wins (37) and shutouts (5) and ranked fifth in save percentage (.921). His 37 wins were a career high and the fifth-highest total in a single season in Colorado’s history.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native appeared in 27 games for the Arizona Coyotes in 2020-21, finishing with a 10-11-3 record with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. Kuemper ranked tied for third in the NHL in goals-against average (2.22) and third in save percentage (.928) during the 2019-20 season and was selected to represent the Pacific Division at the NHL All-Star Game (did not play due to injury). In 2018-19 with Arizona, Kuemper played in 55 games and finished tied for fifth in Vezina Trophy voting.
In 299 career NHL games with Minnesota, Los Angeles, Arizona, and Colorado, Kuemper is 143-95-36 with 25 shutouts, a 2.48 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
Kuemper represented Canada at the 2018 and 2021 World Championships, winning a gold medal in 2021 while posting a 5-2-1 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and a.916 save percentage in eight games.
Kuemper was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the sixth round (160th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft.
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