Darcy Kuemper's Final 2023-24 Grade

Welp these are never easy
Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals
Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

It has not been the easiest of times for Darcy Kuemper in Washington. The Stanley Cup winning goalie was supposed to be the answer in net for the Capitals after years of questions and average play at that position. Instead, he has only brought in more questions and more average play at best. His play leading people all around hockey to wonder if he will remain in D.C. next season.

His first season with the Capitals was not bad. It was simply that the team had struggled in goal for so many years. The ups and down of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek and the downturn of Braden Holtby's career. Kuemper was supposed to be the stabling force. He was supposed to give the team good consistent goaltending, and he just hasn't.

The 2022-23 season was okay for Kuemper. He did play in 57 games and most of the season he was a fairly good netminder. His 2.87 goals against average is a little bloated, but his .909 save percentage is pretty high considering. That was an ok season, not great, but room for improvement.

The improvement did not come, and unfortunately for Kuemper and the Capitals it was actually some pretty hard regression. He had a 3.31 GAA and a .890 save percentage in 33 games played.

Among the fifty goalies who played 1,500 minutes or more this season Kuemper's 3.31 GAA ranked 42nd. His save percentage was also ranked in the mid forties. His high danger save percentage was a little better. This season he saved .795% of the high danger shots sent his way. Out of the fifty goalies we mentioned that put him at 35th. Just to compare to some names we know, Lindgren was 17th with a .819, and old friends Samsonov was a .790% and Vanecek was last at .736%. Just saying, it could have been worse.

Some fun numbers to look at are goals saved above average. Kuemper had -12.19 GSAA among the fifty goalies. That was 45th. Again, to compare, Lindgren was all the way up at 12th with a 11.25 GSAA. Lindgren was also 17th in HDGSAA at 3.43, while his partner Kuemper was down at 33rd at -3.70.

Stats and numbers are just that. We can all see the numbers and say "not good enough". But all you had to do was watch. There were a lot of goals this season that went in on Kuemper that, at least gave me Samsonov flashbacks. Kuemper might have been playing well, might have made some saves and then got beat with a shot that made you squint and say, "Really? That one?" Or at the very least the way Lindgren played this year when a puck got passed Kuemper you would think, "Lindgren probably would have had that one" That obviously leading to the higher paid Kuemper sitting on the bench most nights, while Lindgren helped lead his team to the postseason.

Grade: D

There might be a lot of fans or other people out there that would simply give Kuemper an F and move on. As much as he did struggle I didn't and don't think Kuemper was unusable. Unusable would be something like Jack Campbell in Edmonton. Struggles one year then the next has a 4.50 GAA and a .873 save percentage then gets sent down to the AHL. As not good a season as Kuemper had, it wasn't that bad. But at the end of the day, he lost his starting job.

We'll see if he gets a chance to redeem himself in Washington. He's been a good goalie. I would bet on him getting things back on track. It's just up for debate if he gets that chance with the Capitals.