Kings Trade Darcy Kuemper to Arizona for Tobias Rieder, Scott Wedgewood

The Kings sell high on Darcy Kuemper to acquire another depth forward. Is the bottom-six upgrade worth the goalie downgrade?

First came Torrey Mitchell, then Nate Thompson. If you thought the Los Angeles Kings were done building their forward depth with Trevor Lewis and Jeff Carter working their way back, though, think again.

This piece has the highest upside of the bunch, and not coincidentally, it comes at the highest cost. Tobias Rieder, a familiar face from his time with the Arizona Coyotes, comes to Los Angeles along with goaltender Scott Wedgewood. Heading out of town: the backup goalie you love to love, Darcy Kuemper.

First, let’s talk about the guy LA is losing. With plenty of options available over the summer, the Kings opted for one of several low-cost, medium-risk, medium-reward options rather than splurging for Ryan Miller, Jonathan Bernier, or another former starter. Except Kuemper, like Ben Scrivens before him, turned into a high-reward option, putting up a .932 save percentage in 19 games behind Quick. Kuemper presumably had only a handful of starts left in a Kings uniform, but LA went 10-1-3 in Kuemper’s starts, and now these starts will go to either Jonathan Quick or a vastly inferior backup. Scott Wedgewood, the goalie LA got in return, has an .893 save percentage for Arizona in 20 appearances. That’s a goal a game if all stays the same.

However, LA is doing something really smart by trading Kuemper at the peak of his value, We’ve seen the Kings trade Ben Scrivens and Peter Budaj midseason before, with vastly different results. Scrivens was at peak value, and he was traded to Edmonton for a third-rounder which was eventually used to acquire Marian Gaborik. Budaj had declined from a great first half, and he ended up as a piece of the Ben Bishop trade. The Kings got an actual, potentially useful forward for someone who may probably will never play this well again, and definitely won’t be doing it here.

Which brings us to Rieder. Unlike Kuemper, he is a buy-low candidate, scoring below his usual 15-goal, 35-point pace. He’s also a pending RFA and not a UFA, meaning the Kings will hold his rights when his contract is up. It’s no secret what Rieder brings to the table: speed and defensive ability, with a potential to chip in goals a la Trevor Lewis. You can see that Arizona was better at keeping shots away from the front with Rieder on the ice during the PK.

One concern is that Rieder’s scoring drop-off isn’t because of a shooting percentage decline, as it is for many players, but due to simply taking fewer shots. However, this seems mostly tied to playing about two fewer minutes a game compared to last season. It’ll be interesting to see if he can still produce playing 12-14 minutes a game instead of 14-16 minutes a game. Otherwise, he appears to offer a slight upgrade over the Cliffords, Andreoffs, and Thompsons in skill and a slight upgrade over the Brodzinskis and Amadios in experience.

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