darcy kumper Signed a five-year contract with the Washington Capitals as an unrestricted free agent in July to become the team’s number one goalscorer. In a market hungry for a quality goal, Kumper had a list of suitors ready to pay for his services.
So, why was Washington his first choice? Netminder, 32, explains why on the first day of training camp.
“For me, it was after winning it last year, you want to do it again,” Kumper said. “It’s a group that won recently and is still the seasoned group that knows how to win. That was an exciting draw for me. Coming to a place where I believe I can come in and that I can help the team that has already won it, do it again.”
The Capitals are Kumper’s fifth NHL team and their third in just three seasons. Normally a goalkeeper who often turns around is doing something wrong, but in this scenario it is the exact opposite.
In 57 starts last season for the Western Conference-best Avalanche, he went 37-12-4 with a .921 saving percentage, 2.54 goal-average, and five shutouts. When the calendar flipped to 2022, the Saskatoon native played some of the best hockey of his career, second only to Igor Shesterkin and fourth in high-threat save percentage behind only Shesterkin, Ilya Sorokin and Jake Oettinger .
“The biggest challenge (when moving teams) is that although most systems are the same, there are very few variations here and there,” Kuemper said. “Usually, it comes very quickly, you learn to read your new teammates very quickly. It just takes a game or two. Once you know their instincts, our reading as a goalkeeper is a bit much. Starts off easy and then it becomes quite comfortable in the net.
“We’ve actually started seeing some videos on this (the new system) already,” Kuemper continued. “You put in practice and start with that and then you get some pre-season games which also help. Get as close to 100 percent as you can for the start of the regular season. ,
Kumper is not the only new goalscorer in town as the team has decided to redeploy both of its members for the 2022–23 campaign. Charlie Lindgren, the last of the Saint Blues, was signed to a three-year deal worth $1.1 million per season to fill the backup role.
“Before we met each other in person, we were texting back and forth,” Kuemper said of his batterymate. “It’s been fun so far. He’s a great partner. We’re definitely looking forward to working together. What’s important for the goalkeeper partners is to be a supporting force to each other because we’re only two goals in the team.” No one really knows what we’re going through or how to play out the situation. Having a good relationship with that guy, in this case Charlie, is going to be really important going forward and It has been a great start so far.”
One of the most important relationships on an entire hockey team is the dynamic between the goaltender and the goalscoring coach. The Capitals know that Brayden Holtby was the first to succeed under Mitch Korn. Kumper would now like to have a similar relationship with Scott Murray.
“We did a few Zoom calls sporadically over the summer,” Kuemper said. “Just tried to start that relationship a little bit early, get a head start on that. It’s been great working together so far. We’re definitely on the same page about how to play and what makes us successful.” Really looking forward to taking that relationship forward.
As a new member of the Capitals in the Nets, Kumper will no longer have to worry about Alex Ovechkin’s one-timer during games. He is much more aware, which means he will see it in a different setting even more.
“I have to deal with it every day in practice but it’s a little easier than doing it in a game,” Kumper said. “It doesn’t matter if it goes into it. A guy like him would be fun to shoot at me every day. It’ll help my game and help me get better every day.”
screenshot via capitals