The Minnesota Wild have signed backup netminder Darcy Kuemper to a one-year contract extension carrying a value of $1.55 million.
Kuemper has had an up-and-down career with Minnesota, helping to bail them out of some serious goaltending issues a few years back (when he started that season perceived as being behind Johan Gustafsson on the depth chart). Then after Josh Harding kicked a wall during training camp, Kuemper became the opening night goaltender and went on a long shutout streak.
But by midseason he and Nicklas Backstrom were struggling so much that the Wild needed to make a trade to acquire Devan Dubnyk, locking Kuemper behind Dubnyk for the foreseeable future.
It’s been a bumpy ride for Kuemper, but this one-year deal buys up his last year of restricted free agency and will see him hit the free agent market next summer. He’s posted a .912 all-situation save percentage through three seasons and a little change, as well as putting up a .921 even-strength save percentage last season.
Outside of Kuemper the team has former San Jose Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock, who signed on the opening day of free agency. He’s expected to be the starter for AHL Iowa while free agent signee Adam Vay and former Harvard goaltender Stephen Michalak battle it out for backup duties in Iowa.
The one-year deals for Kuemper and Stalock leave the Wild in a precarious position with regards to the 2017 expansion draft. With the requirement of exposing a goaltender who is on contract or an RFA for the 2017-18 season, the Wild would be required to expose Devan Dubnyk, since both Kuemper and Stalock will be UFAs next summer. According to the Star Tribune, neither Michalek or Vay would count for their RFA goaltender, likely because they have yet to make a NHL appearance.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.