The Minnesota Wild remain optimistic about goaltender Darcy Kuemper, even after signing Devan Dubnyk to a long-term contract, general manager Chuck Fletcher told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Thursday.
"Well we're still very excited about Darcy Kuemper," Fletcher told the newspaper. "He's a young man, and two seasons ago, he had a tremendous year. Last year he was certainly more erratic. He started well and had a tough stretch in the middle of the year. Then Dubnyk came in and never relinquished the net. It was hard for Darcy to get any ice time at the end of the year."
Kuemper was 12-8-4 with a 2.43 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 2013-14, then was 14-12-2 with a 2.60 GAA and .905 save percentage last season, when he played twice after Jan. 20.
Dubnyk started 38 straight games after being acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes.
"[Kuemper is] just turning 25, he's got great size (6-foot-5, 205 pounds) and athleticism, and we feel he's a guy that can win games in this league. He has won games in this league," Fletcher said. "He won a playoff series against [the Colorado Avalanche in 2014] where he was the No. 1 goalie. This is a guy who has pretty good experience for a young guy and still has a lot of upside."
The Wild entered last season with Kuemper, Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom on their goaltending depth chart. Fletcher said he expects to carry three again.
"With Darcy we feel very comfortable with him as No. 2, and Niklas Backstrom is under contract and right now he'll be a No. 3 goalie," Fletcher said. "For a lot of the last two years, we've had to carry three goalies, and it looks like that's how we're going to have it to start this season as well."