New Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper: ‘I ended up with a great organization, a great team and I’m really excited’
The Washington Capitals headed into Day 1 of free agency needing two goaltenders, after trading Vitek Vanecek and failing to make a qualifying offer to Ilya Samsonov. General manager Brian MacLellan accomplished both in a short time, with Darcy Kuemper being the key acquisition.
Kuemper is coming off the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, where he went 37-12-4 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 57 games. regular season. In the Avs’ 2022 Stanley Cup run, Kuemper was 10-4 in 16 games with a 2.57 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. The Capitals are four years away from their own championship in 2018 and will be hoping Kuemper strengthens their goaltending status.
“It’s a group of veterans who know how to win. Obviously it’s a team that’s won before and that’s what I was looking for, another chance to win and I think it’s a place where we can do that.
While Kuemper, who ranks first in save percentage and second in goals-against average since 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 few weeks, the 32-year-old has completed the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs and signed with a new organization.
“My day with the cup is approaching in August…it’s really been a whirlwind, you win and celebrate and you have a few days to enjoy it and then you look for your next team.”
While their goaltending tandem from last season is no longer on the roster, the Caps’ signing of Kuemper and backup Charlie Lindgren solidifies their goaltending position for the foreseeable future. Kuemper brings a track record and stable play to the roster that Washington lacked.
“We can’t wait to go there, to see the area, to look for houses, to buy a house, a place where we can call home. But more importantly, being part of a team for the future is also very exciting.
“You never know where you’re going to end up, and lots of strangers. But you can’t think about it too much because you’re going to drive yourself crazy, but everything happens for a reason and it worked. I ended up with a great organization, a great team and super excited for it.
Washington has a long reputation as a perennial contender, and while top goaltenders weren’t high on the team’s roster in free agency due to their steady fold prior to Braden Holtby’s departure in free agency a few summers ago, the lure of the District, however, proved attractive to 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 where I could really see myself fitting in, and that was really exciting that thought so here it was i wanted to go for all the options and i was really excited that we were able to get something done i got a few texts already, guys welcoming me to the team , let me know if I have any questions to let them know, so I still have to answer a few people, but I can’t wait to get to know everyone.”
As mentioned above, the Caps added backup goaltender Charlie Lindgren to a three-year contract shortly after inking Kuemper. Both guards share the same agent and will share goaltending duties in Washington next season.
“I’ve never met him before but I heard he’s a great guy, great in the locker room and everyone loves him so super excited to get to know him and start our partnership there .”
Kuemper played in 299 career NHL games, going 143-95-36 with a 2.48 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and 25 shutouts in 10 seasons with the Minnesota Wild, the Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes and Avalanche. .
“Once I knew Washington was interested, it was a place I could really see myself fitting in. I was really excited at that thought, so that’s where I wanted to go.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 13, 2022
By Michael Fleetwood