Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper has seen his name involved in trade speculation over the past several weeks amid reports that the team is looking to reduce its payroll for the 2020-21 season. However, it appears that a lofty asking price has been set to get him as Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reports that Arizona GM Bill Armstrong is seeking a first-round pick plus another piece in order to part with the 30-year-old.
Kuemper has turned his career around considerably in the past few years after moving on from Minnesota in 2017. Since then, he has posted a save percentage of .920 or better in each of those three seasons along with a GAA that has dipped from 2.52 to 2.22 since then. Having said that, it’s worth noting that Kuemper only played in 29 games this season due to a lower-body injury that held him out of 28 contests plus the pandemic. Overall, he has played in just 113 games over the past three seasons so while he has certainly played well, he also hasn’t shown that he can be a starting goalie over a full year which an acquiring team would envision him as to even consider paying that asking price.
Teams looking for a cost-effective goalie will certainly be intrigued by his $4.5MM AAV for the next two years. That’s cheaper than what the top netminders will get in free agency and at a time where every dollar is going to count in this cap environment, that’s certainly important.
But with other goalies believed to be available for trade including Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Carolina’s Petr Mrazek, and potentially one of Columbus’ netminders as well, it will be difficult for Armstrong to have that price met. There is considerable supply available and that, in theory, should drive the price down.
This is far from a must-move situation; even if they do have to trim payroll, there are other veterans that the Coyotes could try to move to accomplish that objective. If they can’t get their price for Kuemper, Antti Raanta and his $4.25MM AAV (and only $2MM left in salary with his signing bonus of $2MM already paid) could potentially be in play at some point. But if they can get their price, it would certainly be a great return for someone that they parted with only Tobias Rieder and Scott Wedgewood to get back in 2018.