[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.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.
John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.
Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.
Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?
For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting upJohn Tavares.
The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.