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Kuemper hopes second stint with Kings lasts longer than first

Darcy Kuemper Darcy Kuemper - The Canadian Press

Darcy Kuemper's first stint with the Los Angeles Kings lasted less than one season. Both sides are hoping this one lasts longer.

The veteran goaltender was acquired on Wednesday from the Washington Capitals for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois in a trade of high-priced, underachieving players.

Kuemper has played for five teams during his 12-year NHL career, including the Kings. He signed with Los Angeles as a free agent in 2017 and went 10-1-3 with a 2.10 goals-against average in 19 games (15 starts) as Jonathan Quick's backup before being dealt to Arizona near the trade deadline in 2018.

“It was tough to have it be so short because of how much I enjoyed the organization, living there, playing with the guys. So, I'm excited to be back,” Kuemper said on Friday. “I had a lot of success with Bill Ranford and the goalie staff. I'm looking forward to getting back to work with them, joining the team and helping us get wins.”

Kuemper said he found out from his wife Wednesday afternoon that he was traded.

Kuemper and David Rittich are expected to be Kings' goaltenders in 2024-25. Cam Talbot signed a one-year deal last year and started 57 games, but president and general manager Rob Blake on Wednesday said Talbot is not expected to be back.

Instead, Blake is hoping that Kuemper can regain the form that saw him win a Stanley Cup title with Colorado during the 2021-22 season.

Kuemper, who has three seasons remaining on a five-year $26.25 million contract he signed with Washington in 2022, ended up being the backup to Charlie Lindgren when the Capitals were swept in four games in the first round by the New York Rangers.

The 34-year old Kuemper appeared in 33 games with 30 starts for Washington. He was 13-14-3 with a 3.31 GAA and one shutout.

“It was frustrating because we weren't winning as many games and I wasn't playing as much. I'm looking to prove that last year was just a one off,” he said. “I believe that I can come in and be a stabilizing force in the net and provide the goaltending that the team needs.”