BOCA RATON, Fla. -- When Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher traded Matt Hackett at the NHL Trade Deadline last season, he was sending a signal to Darcy Kuemper that he would be the marquee goalie in the organization's developmental system and featured between the pipes with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League.
It's fair to say things have changed since then.
Less than a year after Fletcher dealt Hackett to the Buffalo Sabres, Kuemper is Minnesota's No. 1 goalie, facing the challenge of giving the team a chance to win every game he starts as they creep closer to a second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Over the last few seasons, Matt Hackett played more games than Darcy in the American League, and Darcy had to go to the ECHL and play overage as a junior," Fletcher told NHL.com. "He had never been our marquee guy in the developmental system. We really felt he needed that. He needed a year where he'd be a 40-50 game guy for his development, knowing fairly soon he'd challenge in Minnesota. Now, of course, the future came very quickly."