The Colorado Avalanche have traded goalie Darcy Kuemper to the Arizona Coyotes for a third-round pick in the 2019 draft.
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The Colorado Avalanche looked to have lost out on all of their goaltender targets as the day went to night on the first day of NHL free agency in 2021.
Instead, GM Joe Sakic made a major move, acquiring Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defender Conor Timmins, a potential first-round selection in 2022, and a conditional third-round pick in 2024.
In this transaction, who comes out on top? Let’s go into the nitty gritty of each team’s performance:
Joe Sakic, who runs an analytics-driven front office in Colorado, is widely regarded as one of the finest and most capable general managers in the NHL. While the Avalanche have yet to win the Stanley Cup under Sakic’s leadership, his hit-to-miss ratio in player personnel moves has been comparable to Quentin Tarantino’s in cinema.
Which, one imagines, makes Philipp Grubauer his “The Hateful Eight.” Sakic overplayed his hand, and the NHL’s goaltender carousel spiraled out of control as a result.
The Seattle Kraken signed Grubauer to a six-year, $35.4 million free agency contract. He stated of his negotiations with the Avalanche, “They had their time and their chance, but in the end we couldn’t get it done in time.” The Avalanche found themselves without their Vezina Trophy finalist goalie and out of options on the free-agent and trade markets.
With the exception of one. “We were the last guy standing, with one of the best goaltenders in the league,” Bill Armstrong, the Coyotes’ general manager, remarked. And he used it to his advantage against Sakic.
The Avalanche, in a way, gave up assets that they could afford to lose. Their first-round selection will most likely be in the middle of the pack next summer. No one knows what Timmins will turn out to be, but Colorado’s blue line is loaded. If the Avalanche don’t win the Cup, Kuemper’s third-round pick is forfeited, and if they do, he must play in 50 percent of the playoff games.
However, such assets are no longer available for use in the future, such as at the trade deadline. It’s all because their starting goaltender left in free agency.
Kuemper, on the other hand, might be a more than adequate substitute. While his statistics weren’t spectacular last season (10-11-3 record,.907 save %), he had 44.1 goals saved over average over the previous three seasons, which ranked him 12th among all goaltenders and put him just ahead of Grubauer (42.5). He has the same lifetime playoff save percentage as Grubauer (.913), so maybe his 49-save game against the Avalanche in the Coyotes’ bubble series defeat made an impact.
Kuemper can be excellent when he’s healthy, therefore the rating stays good. Outside of what it cost to acquire him, there’s not a big commitment here at $3.5 million against the cap in the last year of his deal. Regrettably, this became necessary.
Bill Armstrong, add to the pile of selections. The general manager of the Arizona Cardinals has just done an incredible job of utilizing his team’s limited assets and cap space to accumulate an absurd collection of draft assets. The Avalanche first-round selection gives him two first-round picks in 2022 (and bear in mind that the Colorado pick isn’t lottery-protected) and five second-round choices following season. That’s incredible.
During the craze, Kuemper was a sought-after goalie. Other bids for a pending UFA, one thinks, didn’t go as far as an unprotected first-round pick and a young rostered defender like Timmins. The goaltender carousel swung in Armstrong’s favor in this deal, and he received both.
“We just waited and stood firm in talks. As additional goaltenders signed, it became clear that he was the major chip on the table for other teams hoping to win the Cup “Armstrong said.
Carter Hutton, a former Sabre, is the Coyotes’ starting goalie right now. Perhaps they’ll add another. Maybe they’re playing with a net that’s empty. It doesn’t matter; this squad has been reduced to copper pipes, and Armstrong deserves respect for the fury with which they retooled their tank.
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