NHL trade rumors: Insider speculates Darcy Kuemper's time at Washington Capitals will draw to an end

NHL: Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes
Darcy Kuemper of the Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals ended the postseason with a disappointing first-round elimination at the hands of the New York Rangers. Now the team will be looking to shake things up in the locker room and reports speculate that netminder Darcy Kuemper could see the door in the off-season.

After winning his first Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2021–22 season, Kuemper signed a five-year contract with the Capitals. He just finished playing his second season of the contract and still has three more to go.

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman recently speculated possible scenarios for Darcy Kuemper’s future.

"Is Kuemper back? Do they try to find a new home for him?" I think that's possible. It's not easy but I think they're going to try,” Freidman said. [H/T Hockey News]

Friedman thinks the Capitals could move their starter elsewhere, although he did acknowledge that the move won't come easy.

If the Capitals successfully trade Darcy Kuemper this offseason, their backups must step up quickly. Unless the Caps sign someone else between the pipes, Charlie Lindgren or Mitchell Gibson might be the permanent starters next season.

Why the Capitals might consider trading Darcy Kuemper

When Kuemper joined the Washington Capitals in 2022, he was fresh off a Stanley Cup victory and carried his form into his first season with the team.

Darcy Kuemper for the Washington Capitals
Darcy Kuemper for the Washington Capitals

He went 22-26-7 in 57 games in 2022-23 with a goals against average of 2.87 and a save percentage of .908. However, things did not go on the same level for the player in the 2023–24 season.

Kuemper's performances dipped visibly and his goals against average rose to 3.31. While still solid, his consistency in the nets has been on a steady decline, and that could be one of the major reasons the Capitals will try to trade away the player in the offseason.

In fact, the Capitals have two really promising youngsters, Hunter Shepard and Clay Stevenson, waiting in the wings. Shepard has already shown his grit in the AHL and even won the Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award in 2023-24.

Then there is the contract situation. Kuemper's current five-year contract is worth $26,250,000, which lasts until the end of the 2026–27 season.

According to the deal, Darcy Kuemper is set to make a base salary of $6,000,000 with a cap hit value of $5,250,000 for the 2024–25 season. With that sum in mind and the possible cap space a trade could clear, it remains to be seen if the Capitals will continue with the 34-year-old next season.

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