Trade: Avalanche pay big price to get Kuemper; Coyotes rebuild soars

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The Colorado Avalanche balked at a big free-agent price for Philipp Grubauer, but they still made a big goaltending investment on Wednesday. According to Craig Morgan, the Avalanche traded for Darcy Kuemper, reportedly sending Conor Timmins, a 2022 first-rounder and a conditional 2024 third-rounder to the Coyotes.

Trade: Avalanche receive Kuemper as Grubauer replacement

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that Arizona will retain $1 million of Kuemper’s salary in the trade with the Avalanche.

If true, that means that Kuemper will carry a $4.5M cap hit with the Avalanche in 2021-22. Kuemper, 31, is entering a contract year, and is eligible to become a UFA after this season.

With Kuemper and Pavel Francouz both under contract for 2021-22, the Avalanche have some clarity about their goaltending situation. Will they extend one or the other? If not, free-agent goalie departures could become a recurring theme for the Avalanche as they hope to win a Stanley Cup with Nathan MacKinnon.

[More on the NHL free-agent goalie carousel; Read up on Grubauer with Kraken]

It’s a steep price for the Avalanche to pay, although they might argue that it’s worth it to maintain some roster flexibility. Unlike other teams, they didn’t commit themselves to a medium or long-term free-agent goalie contract.

They also saw up-close how strong Darcy Kuemper can be in net. While he didn’t pull off an upset against the Avalanche during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kuemper kept the Coyotes in some one-sided games. For all we know, Kuemper could end up being a huge part of what the Avalanche are building.

(Or he could be a useful stopgap. We’ll see.)

Kuemper trade adds more useful building blocks in Coyotes rebuild

It’s remarkable how much rebuilding teams managed to snag from trades for players entering contract years.

The Blue Jackets landed an incredible haul for Seth Jones, who’s expected to sign an extension with the Blackhawks. It sure seems like the Coyotes sold-high on Darcy Kuemper, too.

Between taking on bad contracts and shipping out Kuemper, Conor Garland, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Coyotes are generally saving money in the short-term, while speeding up their rebuild. If they make the right choices in the upcoming drafts, and develop those talents properly, they could be dangerous in the future.

Not bad for a team that lost a ton of futures thanks to that strange recruiting violation under John Chayka.

It remains to be seen if Conor Timmins, 22, will be a key asset. The RFA has struggled with concussion issues, but has been hyped as a prospect. So far, he’s played in 33 regular-season games with the Avalanche, including 31 last season.

Simply enough, Timmins will receive a better chance to prove himself with the Coyotes than he would with the loaded Avalanche.

Overall, strong work from the rebuilding Coyotes, even if they have a very, very long way to go before they can look anything like the Avalanche.

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Trade: Avalanche pay big price to get Kuemper; Coyotes rebuild soars originally appeared on NBCSports.com