Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Leave Darcy Kuemper Alone

In a back to back series in Buffalo and Toronto to open up the season, Mike Yeo thought it best to start two goalies in the two games instead of just one (like he did several times last year). Josh Harding took the Monday night start in Buffalo, leaving last night's game with Toronto for young netminder Darcy Kuemper.

Kuemper you may recall had some brief stints with the Wild last year, and fared admirably (except for his postseason performance) posting a 2.08 GAA and .916 save percentage in his six games played. Last year for Houston, he had a 1.88 GAA and .934 save percentage in his 21 games played.

But last night, the Wild clearly outplayed the Leafs, and Toronto didn't register a shot until the 4:24 mark of the first period. That shot found its way into the back of the net. The Leafs didn't register another shot for the next seven minutes of the period. In fact, the Leafs only had three shots in the entire first period. Kuemper only stopped one. He was cold, and now lacking confidence from the first goal. 

When all was said and done, Kuemper allowed three goals on seven shots. He was pulled halfway through the second period, after allowing his second soft goal of the night. It was just not his night.

Should Kuemper have started tonight's game? Yes. Should he continue to get called up and sent down during the season? No.

The young goalie is just 23 years old. He still has plenty of time to grow as a goalie, and should be ready to take the NHL nets full time once Niklas Backstrom's contract with the team is up. But the issue here is that Kuemper comes up to the team and just sits on the bench, only getting used in back to back situations like the one we saw yesterday.

The best move for the team here is to send Kuemper back down and leave him there. If one of the NHL goaltenders gets hurt again, find a goalie for cheap and bring them in as a "third string" to the Wild. Its tough because of their cap situation, but it is an option they should consider.

Leaving Kuemper in the AHL for a full season will give him time as a #1 goaltender, and gives him some much needed experience. Because lets not forget, he was the backup for a majority of last season before Matt Hackett was traded to Buffalo.

So when Niklas Backstrom returns from injury, lets leave Darcy Kuemper in the AHL. Its the best thing you can do for him and the team.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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