Just when Arizona Coyotes’ fans were attempting to digest all the moves general manager Bill Armstrong has already made, there may be more. Yes, that’s right, puck heads — more trade rumours are still circling like vultures above the Coyotes management offices. The latest (well… it’s really not new news) is that the Coyotes may in fact trade their starting goaltender, Darcy Kuemper. Could another blockbuster trade be in the works by the Coyotes?
Darcy Kuemper Gathers Tons of Trade Interest Around the NHL
If you listen to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he thinks the Coyotes may not be done wheeling and dealing. And, who would doubt him as he was the first to report the big Oliver Ekman-Larsson/Conor Garland trade to Vancouver.
Vancouver goalie Braden Holtby was discussed as part of the trade package in the blockbuster deal between the Coyotes and Canucks. As I have said before teams are interested in Yotes Goalie Darcy Kuemper – mainly Colorado. So makes some sense Holtby’s name came up.
— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) July 23, 2021
Darcy Kuemper Trade Candidates
Coyotes G Darcy Kuemper continues to draw trade interest from multiple teams, including Toronto. Arizona may retain some of his $4.5M cap hit as part of a deal, but I’m hearing the price is quite high. Something to watch.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 26, 2021
It would be something unusual to see two teams make deals with each other within a week’s time. His injury history is another factor. Over his last three seasons in Arizona, Kuemper has only averaged 37 games a year. His limited seasons have been due to two long-term lower body injuries the last two seasons which crippled the Coyotes’ chances to succeed.
Whether that will dissuade teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs or Colorado Avalanche is yet to be determined. Toronto has limited cap space ($9.4 million) and Colorado has much more at $20 million as of this writing. With Philipp Grubauer heading to free agency very shortly, there remains the possibility that he too could be traded if a contract can’t be worked out. Don’t forget that the Avalanche just signed their young stud defenceman Cale Makar to an six-year $56 million pact. That decreased their available cap space significantly.
They also need to determine how to pay their captain Gabriel Landeskog who has yet to ink a deal. Brandon Saad will also need to be re-signed, or he’ll quickly approach free agency. If the Avalanche believe now is their time to win the Stanley Cup, a trade for Kuemper may seal the deal.
Darcy Kuemper Has no Interest in Sticking Around in Arizona
The motivating factor for the Coyotes to trade Kuemper may be his intention to not re-sign with the team. How much effort will he put in if he stays in Arizona? He may try to exceed expectations merely to advance his contract number. Armstrong may be open to the possibility of retaining salary. Having the cap space he has is a definite bargaining tool to be used to finalize any trade. The team is at a crossroads and Armstrong is leading them down the path of success and respectability in the league. How refreshing is that?
Whether Kuemper is tired of being in Arizona or doesn’t like the direction the team is taking is uncertain. He wants out, and when a player publicly states that, it’s time to consider moving him. Waiting till the trade deadline could be another option, but what if he gets injured again or his play falters? His trade value will drop like a lead balloon. The time to see what teams may offer for him is now. If he stays he will be a ‘lame duck” goalie, and who wants that?
If Kuemper Leaves, Who’s in Net?
There are load of available goalies that Armstrong could go after besides Grubauer. Petr Mrazek, Linus Ullmark, and Jaroslav Halak are just a few of the big marquee names. Ullmark seems to be the best fit for the Coyotes. Plus, he’s just 28 years old. His 2.63 goals-against-average and .917 save percentage make him a good option. His numbers would be much better if he wasn’t on a sorry team like the Buffalo Sabres. He has potential and Buffalo has five other goalies they can turn to if Ullmark decides to leave. If Kuemper gets traded, look for Armstrong to make some calls to replace him quickly. He would only have Josef Korenar with any NHL experience and he’s only participated in 10 games so far.
The Yotes still have Ivan Prosvetov down in the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, but he is hardly ready for NHL action yet. We all know that GM Armstrong has a plan and thus far is seems he will have a boatload of draft picks going forward. That’s the future and he certainly realizes that.