Darcy Kuemper was Washington’s big addition of last summer, and he was fine. He was just fine.
|.908||all-situation save percentage|
|167.4||expected goals by opponents, all strengths|
|154||actual goals by opponents, all strengths|
|+13.4||goals saved above expected|
For on-ice percentages, 50 percent means even: both teams possess the puck evenly. Higher is better, lower is worse.
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com show how likely to become a goal shots are from different locations on the ice against this goalie. If the hexagon dot is red, then the goalie is weaker against those shots compared to league average. If the hexagon dot is blue, then the goalie is better against those shots. Blue is good; red is bad.
About this player card: This image from Evolving Hockey shows how the goalies saving statistics compared to league average for a goalie. The leftmost bar in each group shows the team overall, then the three to the right show the goalie’s save percentage with adjustments for quality. The numbers are Z-scores, also known as standard deviations, indicating how far the number is from league average, where two standard deviations means the player is on the extreme edge of the league.
About this visualization: At three times during the season, RMNB shared an open survey with fans, asking the following question for each player:
On a scale from 1 to 5, how HAPPY are you to have this player on the team?
1 means VERY UNHAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
2 means UNHAPPY
3 means NEITHER HAPPY NOR UNHAPPY
4 means HAPPY
5 means VERY HAPPY TO HAVE THEM ON THE TEAM
The numbers above show the average score for the player in each survey period.
The Caps needed a star goalie last summer, and they found one in then-Cup-winner Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper had toiled in obscurity in Arizona before putting up a superhuman performance in Colorado’s regular season prior to the Cup run. He was just okay in those playoffs, though he was dealing with an eye problem that would later require surgery. Then he came to Washington on a reasonable deal, $5.3 million through 2026-27.
I think there might be a gap between our memory of Kuemper’s performance and his numbers. Heck, not even the numbers agree. According to Moneypuck, Kuemper saved 9 goals better than expected. Natural Stat Trick says it was 10 goals better than expected, and Evolving Hockey says it was 13. In any case, that ranks Kuemper somewhere outside the league’s top 15 – good enough to be a reliable positive impact, but not a game-breaker who personally delivers multiple wins all on his own. Given where the Caps were before last summer, I think he’s been a clear upgrade – even if those outgoing goalies went on to success of various kinds with their new clubs. It was time to move on.
At 33, Kuemper now looks down a scary aging curve for goalies. I think he’s got a couple seasons before age really takes hold, and that’s about how long the entire team has as well.
Is Kuemper better than what we saw last season? Not that last season was bad, but is that all he is?
This article would not be possible without HockeyViz, Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, and All Three Zones. Please consider joining us in supporting them. For people interested in learning more from those resources, we recently published video walkthroughs.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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