For the second time this week, a trade involving a goalie has been made.
The Kings have traded goalie Darcy Kuemper to the Arizona Coyotes for forward Tobias Rieder and goalie Scott Wedgewood.
The Coyotes have also affirmed their commitment to Kuemper by giving him a two-year contract worth $1.85 million, beginning in 2018-19.
Antti Raanta is a UFA at season’s end, so the trade raises questions about his future in the desert. It’s possible that a potential playoff team (the Islanders are a good example) could target Raanta, who has played his best hockey of the season recently (3-0-0, 0.90 GAA, .976 SV% last week).
But assuming Raanta stays in Arizona, Kuemper’s presence could cut into the number of starts that Raanta receives. With solid numbers this season primarily in a backup role (10-1-3, 2.10 GAA, .932 SV%), Kuemper has earned additional starts that he probably wouldn’t receive as Jonathan Quick’s understudy. The plus for Kuemper is more starts and potentially wins, but the downside is that he moves from a top-ranked defensive team in Los Angeles (2.48 GAA, 2nd in NHL) to a bottom-ranked defensive team in Arizona (3.25 GAA, 27th in NHL), which could dent his ratios. So treat Kuemper as a somewhat risky play to start, in spite of his strong numbers.
Was Kuemper brought in to be a low-cost starter for the cash-strapped Coyotes? Or a legitimate backup who could push Raanta (or someone else next season) for starts? Or something in between – in other words, a timeshare goalie? It’s hard to say what the Coyotes’ plans are, as there might be more moves before the deadline and there will be more moves during the offseason.
Meanwhile, Wedgewood shouldn’t be expected to start more than one side of back-to-backs for the Kings. The best case scenario is that he posts Kuemper-like numbers (or Peter Budaj, before that) in LA. But given the expected situation he