Washington’s offseason roster reconstruction kicked into gear on Wednesday when the Capitals announced they have traded goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for center P-L Dubois. The swap is a straight up one-for-one trade with no salary retention on either side and no draft picks involved.

Wednesday’s deal accomplishes objectives for both the Caps and the Kings, and it also provides a change of scenery to a pair of players who may be able to benefit from a change in address.

For the last couple years, Caps’ president and general manager Brian MacLellan has been forthright in his desire to add young, skilled players to the mix in D.C., and Wednesday’s deal addresses that need. Dubois turns 26 next week, and he should be heading into what are his prime seasons in the NHL. Dubois’ contract carries an annual salary cap dent of $8.5 million; he was signed to an eight-year deal last June 27, a pact that has seven seasons remaining and which runs through the 2030-31 NHL season.

The third overall choice in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Dubois was a Columbus draft selection who debuted with the Jackets in 2017-18, playing in all 82 games as a rookie. He totaled 20 goals and 48 points in his freshman season as a 19-year-old, and he added two goals and four points in six playoff games against Washington.

Since then, Dubois has mixed three 60-point seasons with three lesser campaigns, all while moving from Columbus to Winnipeg to Los Angeles, where his stay lasted less than a calendar year. He was swapped from Columbus to Winnipeg in January of 2021, and after the Jets inked him to an eight-year extension last June, they sent him to the Kings the same day, getting three players – Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and Gabriel Vilardi – and a second-round draft pick in return.

In his only season as a member of the Kings in 2023-24, Dubois played all 82 games but put up just 16 goals and 40 points. After averaging better than 18 minutes per night in each of his last two seasons with the Jets, Dubois saw his ice time curtailed to a nightly average of just 15:42 last season. He has been a driver of possession throughout his NHL career, and has shown the ability to put up three-quarters of a point per game in his best seasons. Dubois also has the size – 6-foot-4, 225 pounds – teams crave from a prototypical NHL pivot.

Coming to Washington, Dubois will find a couple familiar faces. He and Caps’ left wing Sonny Milano were teammates in Columbus, and Caps’ assistant coach (skills) Kenny McCudden was with the Blue Jackets in the same role during the entirety of Dubois’ time in the Columbus organization.

With the addition of Dubois, the Caps now have him, Nic Dowd, Hendrix Lapierre, Connor McMichael and Dylan Strome on their depth chart in the middle of the ice. And with the departure of Kuemper, they will need to identify a goaltender to serve alongside Charlie Lindgren, who is coming off a breakthrough 2023-24 season in which he wrested the No. 1 netminding job from Kuemper.

The Caps signed Kuemper as an unrestricted free agent on July 13, 2022, inking a five-year deal worth $25 million less than three weeks after hoisting the Stanley Cup with the 2021-22 Colorado Avalanche. The Caps signed him with the intention of him being their No. 1 netminder for the foreseeable future, but Kuemper’s two seasons in Washington didn’t go as well as either he or the team would have hoped.

With Washington, Kuemper’s GAA went up and his save percentage went down, compared to his prior résumé. During his days in the District, Kuemper was also chronically under-supported offensively; of the 62 netminders with at least 40 appearances over the last two seasons, Kuemper ranks 57th with an average of 2.58 goals per game in offensive support. Playing for the same team at the same time, Lindgren ranks 37th on the same list with 2.92 goals per game. By the midpoint of the 2023-24 season, Lindgren had established himself as the team’s most trusted option in the crease.

From the All-Star break to the end of the season, Kuemper appeared in nine games (seven starts), going 2-3-1 with a 3.62 GAA and an .886 save pct. Over the same span, Lindgren posted a 16-10-3 mark with four shutouts, a 2.73 GAA and a .908 save pct. in 29 appearances (28 starts). When the Caps returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, Lindgren received all the postseason starting assignments and logged all the team’s postseason minutes in net.

The Kings have both familiarity with and a need for the 34-year-old goaltender. Kuemper played for the Kings in the back half of the 2017-18 season, coming over from Arizona in a midseason deal. He owns a 10-1-3 lifetime mark with Los Angeles. Kuemper has three years remaining on his contract. Los Angeles has employed six different netminders over the last two seasons, and prior to today’s trade, the Kings had just one NHL netminder (journeyman David Rittich) under contract for the upcoming 2024-25 season.