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Kings save money by dealing Pierre-Luc Dubois for Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper

Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Hockey

LOS ANGELES — The Kings solved a pair of problems Wednesday by trading expensive but underperforming forward Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Kuemper, a former King, will go to the top of the team's thin depth chart in goal. The only other goalie on the Kings' NHL roster is David Rittich, who re-signed with the team last month.

The trade is one for one, with no salary retained on either side, which will give the Kings considerable cap space since Kuemper is owed $5.25 million a year over each of the next three seasons. Dubois is owed $8.5 million through 2030-31.

Dubois, the third overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, came to the Kings in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets a year ago. It was an expensive deal for the Kings, who gave up Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo and Ramus Kupari, plus a second-round draft pick, for Dubois, who was signed to an eight-year, $68 million contract.

The 25-year-old center was largely a bust, however, compiling 16 goals and 24 assists in the regular season and scoring just once in the playoffs, during which the Kings were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round for the third time in as many seasons.

With the exception of the COVID-interrupted 2020-21 season, Dubois' numbers with the Kings were career lows. Following the playoff loss, however, general manager Rob Blake said the team would not buy out his contract.

"We need to make him better," Blake said. "He's had a consistent performance over his career and deviated from that this year. So it's up to us as a staff — coaches and management — to help him become more productive to us."

 

Instead, he dumped Dubois on the Capitals, whose general manager Brian MacLellan lauded the deal. Washington will be Dubois' fourth organization in five years.

"This acquisition brings in a talented 25-year-old with immense potential to become a top-tier center in the NHL," he said in a statement. "With his size, exceptional skating, and high hockey IQ, we are confident he will thrive in our organization with increased responsibility and opportunity."

Kuemper, 34, appeared in 33 games for Washington last season, going 13-14-3 with one shutout in 30 starts. He has played in 389 NHL games over 13 seasons with Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Washington the Kings, posting a 2.61 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage and 31 shutouts.

Kuemper appeared in 19 games with the Kings through the first half of the 2017-18 season, going 10-1-3 with three shutouts. During the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, he won 10 of 14 starts to help Colorado to a championship.

Rittich and Kuemper are the only goalies with NHL experience in the organization, although Blake is high on Erik Portillo, who played well for the Kings' AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, this season.


©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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