[Wild GM Chuck] Fletcher admitted though that he hasn’t talked much with Kuemper’s agent since he surprisingly elected not to file for arbitration July 5.
A path toward a possible arbitration date would have at least guaranteed a settlement on a one- or two-year contract and would have assured that Kuemper would be signed by the commencement of camp Sept. 18. Now, a holdout — or at least the threat of one — is a possibility.
It’s not terribly surprising things have gone this way. Kuemper probably figured he held leverage given Minnesota’s uncertainty in goal — Ilya Bryzgalov won’t be brought back, while Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding both have health concerns — and Kuemper did bail the Wild out of a few emergency situations this year, posting a 12-8-4 with a 2.43 GAA and .915 save percentage.
Head coach Mike Yeo also anointed Kuemper the No. 1 goalie to open the playoffs, and he responded by going 3-1 with a 2.03 GAA and one shutout before being sidelined by a concussion.
That said, Fletcher still isn’t of the belief Kuemper’s established himself as a bonafide big-league ‘tender.
“Darcy has great potential and played very well in stretches for us [last] season, but at the end of the day I think he’s played around 30 games in the NHL,” Fletcher said. “Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract. We feel Darcy right now is trying to establish himself in the league, and once he does that it’ll be a little simpler to come up with terms.”
According to the Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo, this isn’t the first time Kuemper’s contract talks with Minnesota have come to a grind. Russo said Kuemper’s agent “battled” the Wild three years ago on his entry-level deal.
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