It’s rare that a player could win a Stanley Cup and garner less money from his efforts. That might be what’s happening to Darcy Kuemper. The Colorado Avalanche’s starting goalie has been the difference in their losses. He’s had some good games, but he’s also had a couple of stinkers. That’s why the Stanley Cup Final is 3-2 going back to Tampa on Sunday. This is obviously a situation the New Jersey Devils are paying close attention to.
The Devils desperately need a goalie, and Kuemper might be the best available on the free-agent market. At this point, it’s either him or the Toronto Maple Leafs Jack Campbell who will get the richest contract this offseason. Again, the Devils are very curious about the situation because they will likely be one of the first teams in line trying to negotiate.
So far, Kuemper has two very good performances in the Final and then two very bad performances. His performance on Wednesday has a lot of people questioning whether Kuemper is providing much of anything to the Avalanche’s run to the Final. Some might even look at Philipp Grubauer and how he went from a Vezina Trophy candidate to one of the worst goalies in the league when he signed with the Seattle Kraken. Maybe it’s the Avalanche who are providing a safe haven for goalies.
Could this have the Devils questioning whether Kuemper is even worth it at any price? He’s clearly someone who is at least decent in net, but his issues might push the Devils to the trade market once and for all. We already went through why Campbell might not be the best fit, but now it looks like there could be a few issues with Kuemper as well.
Coming into this season, Kuemper was considered a really good goalie with a nice pedigree. He’s been north of .920 save percent for two seasons in Arizona before he was traded to Colorado. He garnered them a first-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft, so he was worth something significant. That value just doesn’t seem to be there anymore.
Prior to the Final, Devils fans would be thrilled if their team was able to sign Kuemper in free agency. Now, there will be some hesitance from the fanbase. It’s an interesting turn of events, and if the Avalanche just didn’t make the Final at all, that likely isn’t the case.