Minnesota knew it would probably have to part with Darcy Kuemper this offseason.
And now it sounds like the move is getting closer.
On Monday, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher admitted he’s started to receive trade calls on the 26-year-old ‘tender but, per the Pioneer Press, is still “a little hesitant” to trade him.
Kuemper has spent his entire professional career with the Wild organization and, at one time, was considered the club’s goalie of the future.
Things certainly looked that way in 2013-14, when he went 12-8-4 with a .915 save percentage and 2.43 GAA during the regular season, and 3-1-0 with a .913 save percentage and 2.03 GAA in the playoffs.
But Kuemper struggled to reclaim that form in ’14-15, which forced Fletcher to acquire Devan Dubnyk — and all Dubnyk’s done since the trade is revive his career, and become a major workhorse for the Wild.
Dubnyk started 66 games this season, the first of his six-year, $26 million deal. Because he’s the clear-cut No. 1 in Minnesota and projects to be for a while, it’s not surprising Kuemper has been the subject of trade calls.
But it’s also not surprising to hear Fletcher has some reservations.
Dubnyk turns 31 next season, and could probably stand a lighter workload moving forward. That could be a good fit for Kuemper, who had some really nice stretches this season — especially in December and January — and since he’s a pending RFA, the Wild do have some club control over his contract, which is important given their financial situation.
That said, Kuemper’s made it clear he wants to try and land a starting opportunity, something that’s unlikely to happen in Minnesota.
So all signs still point to Fletcher pulling the trigger on a move.
“From that standpoint, I think it would behoove us to look around and see what value we could find in him,” Fletcher told the Pioneer Press back in April. “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.”