Brent Johnson explains what the Capitals are getting in Darcy Kuemper

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Brent Johnson explains what the Caps are getting in Kuemper originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

There was a gaping hole at the goaltender position for the Capitals earlier this week. Gaping as in there were literally zero starting netminders on the roster.

Washington plugged that hole by signing 32-year-old Darcy Kuemper to a five-year deal. Kuemper is fresh off a Stanley Cup championship with Colorado and will lock down starting duties in net for the Capitals this year.

He posted a .921 save percentage, 2.54 GAA and a 37-12-4 record for the Avalanche this past year—his numbers speak for themselves. But beyond that, what exactly do the Capitals have their hands on with the veteran?

“They did need that veteran guy. They do need that guy that’s already been there, who’s already done it, and Darcy Kuemper’s got the goods, man,” said Brent Johnson, former Capitals goalie and current analyst on Capitals Pregame Live.

“He looked spectacular in the playoffs, obviously playing for a very, very skilled Colorado Avalanche team. But I think this is the void that [Caps’ general manager] Brian MacLellan needed to fill and I think he did an excellent job in bringing him here.”

MacLellan elected to let both of Washington’s previous goaltenders from the past season—Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek—go this offseason. The Capitals GM mentioned in an earlier availability that he was hoping one of those two would firmly take hold of the starting role but neither truly took the reins.

Kuemper was a huge name on the free agent goaltender market, and Washington swooped in and got their man. It’s his starting job to lose for the Capitals this season.

“He’s seen what the Capitals have, what they’ve been able to do, and probably knows the jist of Washington being that team that’s been inconsistent in between the pipes,” Johnson said. “With the offense, and all the talent and skill that Washington has, I think he’s a piece of that puzzle that fits very nicely. Hopefully it can take them onto that next level next season.”

Related: Best plays of Darcy Kuemper's career

System-wise, Kuemper obviously fits in with what Washington is trying to accomplish. Their window for winning another Stanley Cup, it could be argued, is closing rapidly with an aging core behind Alex Ovechkin.

Bringing in a veteran like Kuemper can solidify the Capitals from the back and hopefully steal some games, both regular season and postseason, for the squad this year and beyond. Stylistically, though, it looks like Kuemper plugs a hole for Washington as well.

“He’s just tremendously big, right, he’s 6’5”…he’s just a big, big kid,” Johnson said. “You get a guy that’s got great size, great physical attributes. He can be that miraculous-style goaltender that can make saves when you’re not expecting it. He can also play a subtle-style goaltending, just kind of positionally sound.”

So it appears as though, for the first time in a few years, the Capitals may have found a stalwart in net who can provide consistent starting play throughout an entire season. Per Brent Johnson, that’s great news considering how long it’s been since Washington had that luxury.

“That thing that maybe they’ve been lacking since Braden Holtby had left is that guy that you can look to,” he said. “You’re not guessing each and every night who’s gonna play and if he’s going to play well enough…they can look to him, and he’s gonna say, ‘I’ve got this.’”