Arizona Coyotes Dilemma: Trade or Keep Darcy Kuemper

Darcy Kuemper

The rumours are flying and the question is will Arizona Coyotes star goalie Darcy Kuemper be flying to a new NHL city to continue his career? Without question, it is being considered. But why? Isn’t he the best player on this team? We’ll try to examine the pro’s and con’s of a trade with Darcy Kuemper’s name on it.

Darcy Kuemper Being Traded Would be Huge

When the Arizona Coyotes obtained Darcy Kuemper on February 21, 2018, from the Los Angeles Kings, he was thought of as a backup goalie to starter Antti Raanta. Raanta had a good year with a 21-17-6 record and a .930 save percentage to go along with a 2.24 goals-against-average. Kuemper saw limited action after the trade to the Coyotes. He only appeared in 10 games with a 2-6-2 record and a less than impressive .899 save percentage and a 3.22 goals-against-average. But then, Raanta got hurt and could only suit up for 12 games for the 2018-19 season. Enter Kuemper. And, boy did he make a grand entrance!

He collected a respectable 27-20-8 record. His 2.33 goals-against-average was excellent, as was his save percentage of .925. He even had five shutouts. Darcy Kuemper had arrived. His next season he was doing just great and there was talk of him being in the Vezina Trophy conversation. Then, on December 19, 2019 in a game against the Minnesota Wild, Kuemper got hurt. He got hurt badly too. It was senseless to even have him in the game, as the Coyotes were getting trashed 8-5. Kuemper made a save which injured his groin and that’s never a quick recovery.

He did come back but after a two month recovery which saw the team plunge from first place without his cat-like netminding.

Postseason Play

During this past postseason Kuemper did everything except stand on his head to keep the Coyotes in games. He managed to survive a barrage of shots on net (163 to be exact) in the Nashville Predators qualifying series. He pretty much dominated the outcome with save after save. The Arizona club won the series 3-1. Then, in the following regular playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche, the lack of defensive support stuck its ugly head up… and Kuemper and the Yotes were eliminated in five games. Again, Kuemper was left out to dry against a skilled, swift and talented Colorado club.

Why is Kuemper in Trade Conversation Anyway?

Well, there is thing called a pandemic and new owner Alex Meruelo, who is a billionaire has lost some money in his business interests. While that may not be the sole reason why the Coyotes are even considering trading Kuemper, it is a factor. The team could very well go into rebuild mode and try to get some draft picks back after being stripped of them due to prospects training violations. Any team who is considering the fact that they may not be competitive for another few years must consider trading their best assets. Consider Kuemper one of their most treasured assets.

While many teams may be interested in Kuemper another player, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has also been involved in trade speculations. It doesn’t seem likely that BOTH players will be dealt, but there is no telling what is going to happen. While the team is without a permanent general manager, interim GM Steve Sullivan has been given the green light to swing deals if he sees fit. That seems unlikely unless Sullivan is being considered to be the new permanent GM

There was news from Elliotte Friedman that the team was very close to finalizing their selection and that St. Louis Blues assistant GM Bill Armstrong‘s name has come up as a possibility.

Pro’s of Trading Darcy Kuemper

Every trade has its advantages and disadvantages. If the Coyotes are considering doing a rebuild to allow their young players to develop further, trading Kuemper is not attractive but necessary. His trade value right now is off the charts with him being bantered about as a possible Vezina winner. OEL is 30 years old and if this team with its present roster limitations wants to be included in the postseason again, changes must be accomplished. Kuemper is the same age as OEL, so the same goes for him. If the team fails to make the playoffs for another 3-4 years why would he want to stay?

If a rebuild is in order (and it seems it is) the team must get a good quality scorer and some draft picks. Kuemper will command at least a first rounder and a scorer at the very least. Teams will be lining up to grab him due to his stellar play the last two seasons. Offers are certainly coming in as time is wasting away for a deal to be done.

Con’s of Trading Darcy Kuemper

Let’s face it, he has become a fan favorite and many of his teammates admit he is their best player. It’s never easy to trade your best player. Not that is hasn’t been done. A more palatable solution would be to trade Raanta, but then his trade value has cratered with his injury history. Something is going to happen as the team signed Adin Hill to a one-year one-way contract today worth $800,000. That means he will be the backup goalie, but backing up whom is the question. In either scenario the team will save over $4 million and help their cap situation.

In Conclusion

There is change in the air for the Arizona Coyotes. Some good changes and some fans may not like to swallow. Such is life in the NHL. The imperative question remains. Who will be guarding the Arizona net next season. Stay tuned.

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