“I think I can come and help a team that won before, I do it again”

Darcy Comber He signed a five-year contract with Washington Capitals as an unrestricted free agent in July to become the team’s number one goalkeeper. In a market hungry for quality, Kuemper likely has a list of suitors willing to pay for his services.

So, why was Washington his first choice? The 32-year-old net keeper revealed why on the first day of training camp.

“For me, it was after you won it last year, you want to do it again,” Komper said. “This is a group that has won recently and still has that veteran group that knows how to win. It was such an exciting draw for me. Coming to a place where I think I can come and help a team that has already won before, do it again.”

The Capitals are Kuemper’s fifth NHL team and third in just three seasons. A goalkeeper who moves around a lot will usually do something wrong, but this is the exact opposite case in this scenario.

In last season’s 57 starters for the best avalanche in the Western Conference, he went 37-12-4 with a 0.921 save ratio, 2.54 goals-to-average, and five closings. When the calendar turned to 2022, the Saskatoon native played some of the best hockey of his career, ranking second only to Igor Shesterkin in savings percentage and 4th in high-risk savings only to Shesterkin, Ilya Sorokin and Jake Oettinger.

“The biggest challenge[when moving teams]is that although most systems are similar, there are very few differences here and there,” Kuemper said. “Usually, it comes very quickly, you learn to read your new teammates very early on. It only takes a game or two. Once you get to know their inclinations, our reading as a goalkeeper starts to get a little easier and then becomes very comfortable in the net.”

“We’ve already started watching some videos on it (new system),” Kuemper continued. “You go into training and you start with that and then you get a couple of games before the season which helps too. Get as close to 100 per cent as you can at the start of the regular season.”

Kuemper isn’t the only new goalkeeper in town as the team opted to renew both synonyms for the 2022-23 campaign. Charlie Lindgren, the last of the St. Blues, signed a three-year deal worth $1.1 million per season to fill the backup role.

“Even before we met each other in person, we were texting back and forth,” Kuemper said of his friend. “It’s been fun so far. He’s a great partner. We’re definitely looking forward to working together. What’s important for the goal partners is just that they are such a supportive force for each other because we’re the only two goalkeepers on the team. Nobody knows exactly what we’re going through or how we’re playing. Center. Having a good relationship with this guy, in this case Charlie, would be really important going forward and it’s been a great start so far.”

One of the most important relationships in the entire hockey team is the dynamic between the goalkeeper and the goalkeeping coach. The Capitals know this firsthand with the success of Braden Holtby under Mitch Korn. Kuemper will now look to build a similar relationship with Scott Murray.

“We’ve had some Zoom calls sporadically all summer,” Kuemper said. “I just tried to start this relationship a bit early, get started. So far it’s been great working together. We’re definitely on the same page about how we should play and what makes us successful. I’m really looking forward to growing that relationship.”

As a new member of Capitals in the net, Kuemper will no longer have to worry about a single timer for Alex Ovechkin during games. He is well aware that this means that he will see more of her in a different environment.

“I’m going to go through it every day in training but it’s a little easier than doing it in a match,” Comber said. “If that happens it doesn’t matter much. It would be fun to have a guy like him shoot me every day. He will help me with my game and help me improve every day.”

Screenshot across capitals

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