With the Minnesota Wild looking to add new pieces to its roster GM Chuck Fletcher hinted at his end of the year press conference that goaltender Darcy Kuemper could be moved. If he is moved the Wild could certainly use his value smartly to acquire the help it needs.
On April 28th Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher held his end of season press conference where he laid out much of his agenda for the upcoming offseason. He covered a ton of topics that included the search for a new head coach, his perception of the team, and some possible personnel moves. Surprisingly he offered a few specific options that the team would be perusing to include a possible trade of back-up netminder Darcy Kuemper.
According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, Fletcher explained his rational for a Kuemper trade saying “If there’s a deal that makes sense for us and allows him to get a better opportunity, I think that would be good for both of us.”
Kuemper has showed lots of promise over his four NHL seasons. Still his flashes of brilliance have been overshadowed in some cases with bouts of inconsistency. After signing his first one-way contract before the 2104-15 season, Kuemper’s inability to take on a consistent starting role was one of the largest factors that led to the Wild’s acquisition of Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk would step in to save the Wild’s season, get them into the second round of the playoffs, and as a reward would sign a six-year contract cementing him as the Wild’s starter for the foreseeable future.
Fletcher explains the current Kuemper situation best in the press conference when he said “We’ve signed Devan to a long-term deal and Darcy is a year away from UFA. So from that standpoint, I think it would behoove us to look around and see what value we could find in him.”
So the question as the Wild head further into their offseason, what exactly is the value that Fletcher spoke of that the Wild can find for Kuemper? With Kuemper’s past issues of taking the reins as a starter you have to think that Fletcher will need to sell him to teams that are in need of a back-up goaltender. The market for him a lone might be a bit weak, but where the Wild can get value from Kuemper is when packaged into a deal with a defenseman to get the forward help the Wild need.
One of the biggest names being rumored to come to Minnesota is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have shown interest in moving forwards to bolster their defense. Right now past Cam Talbot the Oilers back-up netminder is Laurent Brossoit who only has five games of NHL experience. The Oilers need an experienced back-up like Kuemper, and if one of the Wild defenseman alone is not enough to get a deal done, Fletcher can offer Kuemper to the pile and possible get the deal done for Nugent-Hopkins.
This scenario can also play out with another team seeking defense, the Boston Bruins. The Wild could target the Bruins to acquire young forward David Pastrnak who tallied 15 goals in 51 games last season. The Bruins current back up is 31-year-old Jonas Gustavsson, who has bounced around the league a bit and did not exactly have a stellar season in 2015-16. Kuemper as with the Oilers, could be used to top-off a defense for Pastrnak trade if a lone Wild defenseman is not enough.
Those are just a few possibilities of many that could shake out to move Kuemper out of Minnesota. He’s got lots of value and could help the Wild get some pieces that they need, but at the same time if he happens to stay put the Wild will be in great shape too. Either way Fletcher has options and is looking to help the club and Kuemper through a trade. It obvious that Kuemper has value on the trade market, the only question is how that value will be used, if used at all.