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Capitals’ Kuemper In Vegas For NHL Player Media Tour



Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper

Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper wasn’t at the team’s informal skate on Thursday, and for a good reason: he was in Las Vegas for the NHL Player Media Tour.

The 32-year-old netminder took part in scrums and spoke to media on Thursday in Nevada. Earlier this week marked his first time on the ice with his new team as he joined the optional practices ahead of training camp.

Kuemper inked a five-year, $26.25 million contract with Washington on the opening day of free agency. He will be the new starter going forward, working in tandem with new backup Charlie Lindgren. The two met on Monday and appeared to immediately hit it off.

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Both Kuemper and Lindgren replace Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. The Capitals ran with that 1A/1B tandem for two seasons, but neither could find consistency or steal the starting job. Taking that into account, general manager Brian MacLellan chose to move on from their young duo and revamp the goaltending in the offseason. Washington shipped Vitek Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils for draft picks and then chose not to qualify Ilya Samsonov, who became an RFA and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Kuemper has been one of the league’s most consistent goaltenders over the last five seasons. He leads all goalies with at least 150GP since 2017-18 with a .921 save percentage. In 2021-22, he recorded a career-high 37 wins and also had a .921 save percentage for the Colorado Avalanche. He then fought through an eye injury in the postseason to help lead Colorado to its first Stanley Cup title since 2001.

When the Avalanche elected to move on from the 6-5 netminder, he garnered interest from several clubs. However, he wanted to only go to Washington.

“Once I knew Washington was interested, it was a place I could really see myself fitting in and was really excited at that thought,” Kuemper said in the offseason. “This is where I wanted to go of all the options. And I’m really excited that we were able to get something done.

“You never know where you’re going to end up. A lot of unknowns. You just can’t think about it too much because you’ll drive yourself crazy. But everything happens for a reason, and it worked out and ended up with a great organization, a great team and super excited for it.”