Welcome again as soon as once more to the newest version of the THN Scorching Seat, an ongoing collection of THN.com recordsdata wherein we determine one member of every NHL staff who will cope with a number of stress within the upcoming season. Our choice for the recent seat will be an NHL participant, franchise proprietor, GM or head coach.
On this file, we are going to study Washington Capitals.
Capital Scorching Seat: Darcy Kumper, goaltender
Why: It is not typically a Stanley Cup championship-outgoing goaltender who finds himself within the sizzling seat the next season, however once more, it is typically not a Cup win-out-going goaltender dethroned from his championship staff, The way in which Kumper was after profitable all of it in Colorado final yr. Kumper, 32, was an unrestricted free agent on the conclusion of the 2021-22 marketing campaign, and the wage cap-conscious Avalanche selected to go together with former New York Rangers netminder Alexander Georgiev on a $3.4 million annual wage.
In the meantime, Kemper purchased his companies earlier than agreeing to a five-year cope with Washington price $26.25 million. He did not break the financial institution when it comes to his common annual worth, however he did get a contract interval for which most 32-year-old goalkeepers would kill. That mentioned, he’s now underneath all types of stress to ship a optimistic consequence, on a Capital staff that begins the season with out three elite forwards: heart Niklas Backstrom (who missed the whole common season after hip surgical procedure in June). CAN), Tom Wilson (who might be out till January after present process reconstructive knee surgical procedure in Could), and Carl Hagelin (whose profession might finish on March 1 following a devastating eye harm in follow). Granted, the Caps nonetheless have offensive powerhouses in Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie’s newly acquired Dylan Strom and defenseman John Carlsen, however there is not any query that the absences of Backstrom, Wilson and Hagelin take a look at the depth of Washington’s lineup. Will do
The second main drawback for Kuemper is the Capitals Protection Corps. After Carlsen and Dmitry Orlov, there isn’t any Caps D-Man who has spent a median of greater than 20:00 minutes on the ice per recreation, and 5 of their present prime six blueliners are a minimum of 30 years outdated. This isn’t a bunch that’s thought to be one of many NHL’s higher defensive squads, and which means Kumper must carry extra weight than he did in Colorado final season.
As well as, Kumper’s backup – former Canadiens and Blues goalkeeper Charlie Lindgren, one other low season pickup – has solely had 29 NHL video games since he made his debut within the 2015–16 marketing campaign. For probably the most half, Lindgren has been an American League fixture, and there’s no assurance that he’ll be capable to relaxation 25-30 video games to Kumper within the coming yr. Kumper set a brand new private finest with 57 within the video games he performed final season. Nevertheless, in an period the place groups are searching for extra division of play time between their goalkeepers, the Caps are heading into unknown territory with Kuemper and Lindgren.
Per CapFriendly.com, Washington is presently at $6.3 million on the cap ceiling, however together with Backstrom, Wilson, and Hagelin, Caps GM Brian McLane has some wiggle room roster-wise in the course of the season. Many NHL groups have the identical drawback – confirmed objects aren’t out there within the internet, and it would not look like they’re going to be capable to commerce the pipe for the difference-maker. With their present core of expertise the Capitals’ aggressive window closing in, and in the event that they fail to make the playoffs—which is probably going, given the enhancements made to the Metropolitan Division this summer time—it may be problematic that Kumper’s contract is locking him in. One other 4 years.
Will the Caps be at a crossroads on the finish of this season? Unusual issues have occurred. However it will not be nice if Kumper succumbs to the stress, and it might result in massive adjustments within the 2023 low season.