Screen cap: @Capitals
The Washington Capitals headed into the first day of free agency in need of two goaltenders, after trading Vitek Vanecek and not making a qualifying offer to Ilya Samsonov. General Manager Brian MacLellan accomplished both within a short span of time, with Darcy Kuemper the key acquisition.
Kuemper is coming off a Stanley Cup-winning season with the Colorado Avalanche, during which he went 37-12-4 with a 2.54 Goals-Against Average and .921 Save Percentage in 57 regular season games. During the Avs’ run to the 2022 Stanley Cup, Kuemper went 10-4 in 16 games with a 2.57 Goals-Against Average and .902 Save Percentage. The Capitals are four years removed from their own championship run in 2018 and hope that Kuemper will bolster their goaltending situation.
“It’s a veteran group that knows how to win. Obviously it’s a team that’s won before and that’s what I was looking for, another chance to go win and I think this is a place where we can do that.”
While Kuemper, who ranks first in Save Percentage and second in Goals-Against Average since the 2017-18, is now a member of the Caps, he will get his traditional day with the Stanley Cup later this summer. In just a matter of weeks, the 32-year old has finished the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs and signed with a new organization.
“My day with the cup is coming up in August…it’s definitely been a whirlwind, you’re winning and celebrating and you have a couple days to enjoy it, then you’re looking for your next team.”
With both of their goaltending tandem from last season no longer on the roster, the Caps’ signing of Kuemper and backup Charlie Lindgren solidifies their netminding situation for the foreseeable future. Kuemper brings a track record and stable play to the lineup that Washington has lacked.
“We’re looking forward to getting down there, seeing the area, looking for houses, buying a house, somewhere we can call home. But more importantly, being part of a team for the future is really exciting as well.”
“You never know where you’re gonna end up, and a lot of unknown. But you just can’t think about it too much because you’ll drive yourself crazy, but everything happens for a reason and it worked out I ended up with a great organization, a great team, and super excited for it.”
Washington has had a long reputation as a perennial contender, and while high-profile goaltenders haven’t been high on the team’s list in free agency due to their stable crease prior to Braden Holtby’s departure in free agency a few summers ago, the appeal of the District, however, has proven to be attractive for free agents.
“I don’t know if I can say how many teams were involved, but you know once I knew Washington was interested, it was a place I could really see myself fitting in, and it was really exciting that thought, so this was where I wanted to go of all the options and I was really excited we were able to get something done. I’ve received a few texts already, guys welcoming me to the team, letting me know if I have any questions to let them know, so I still got to respond to a few people, but I’m looking forward to getting to know everybody.”
As mentioned above, the Caps added backup goaltender Charlie Lindgren on a three-year deal shortly after inking Kuemper. The two goalies share the same agent and will share netminding duties in Washington next season.
“I’ve never met him before but I’ve heard he’s an awesome guy, great in the locker room and everybody loves him, so super excited to get to know him and start our partnership there.”
Kuemper has played in 299 career NHL games, going 143-95–36 with a Goals-Against Average of 2.48, Save Percentage of .918, and 25 shutouts across 10 seasons with the Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, and Avalanche.
“Once I knew Washington was interested that was a place I could really see myself fitting in. I was really excited at that thought, so this is where I wanted to go.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 13, 2022
By Michael Fleetwood