Kings save money by dealing Pierre-Luc Dubois for Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper

Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) makes a save.
The Kings traded for Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
(Jeffrey T. Barnes / Associated Press)
Share via

The Kings solved a pair of problems Wednesday by trading expensive but underperforming forward Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Kuemper, a former King, will go to the top of the team’s thin depth chart in goal. The only other goalie on the Kings’ NHL roster is David Rittich, who re-signed with the team last month.

The trade is one for one, with no salary retained on either side, which will give the Kings considerable cap space since Kuemper is owed $5.25 million a year over each of the next three seasons. Dubois is owed $8.5 million through 2030-31.


Dubois, the third overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, came to the Kings in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets a year ago. It was an expensive deal for the Kings, who gave up Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo and Rasmus Kupari, plus a second-round draft pick, for Dubois, who was signed to an eight-year, $68-million contract.

The 25-year-old center was largely a bust, however, compiling 16 goals and 24 assists in the regular season and scoring just once in the playoffs, during which the Kings were eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round for the third time in as many seasons.

GM Rob Blake said the Kings removed the interim tag from coach Jim Hiller because they are “very comfortable, very confident in Jim’s approach to challenges.”

May 23, 2024

With the exception of the COVID-interrupted 2020-21 season, Dubois’ numbers with the Kings were career lows. On Wednesday, general manager Rob Blake took the blame.

“I don’t think I did a good enough job integrating him in the right roles on the team,” he said. “It wasn’t a great fit in that aspect for us and we’ll take responsibility for that.”

Asked if Dubois was part of the problem, Blake said no.

“I put it on us,” he said. “We’ve got to work better as a group within this organization to make that fit.”

Instead, he dumped Dubois on the Capitals, whose general manager Brian MacLellan lauded the deal. Washington will be Dubois’ fourth organization in five years.

The Kings' Pierre-Luc Dubois looks to the side and holds his stick above his waist during a game in Philadelphia.
The Kings traded Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Washington Capitals.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

“This acquisition brings in a talented 25-year-old with immense potential to become a top-tier center in the NHL,” he said in a statement. “With his size, exceptional skating, and high hockey IQ, we are confident he will thrive in our organization with increased responsibility and opportunity.”

Kuemper, 34, appeared in 33 games for Washington last season, going 13-14-3 with one shutout in 30 starts. He has played in 389 NHL games over 13 seasons with Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Washington and the Kings, posting a 2.61 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage and 31 shutouts.

Kuemper appeared in 19 games with the Kings through the first half of the 2017-18 season, going 10-1-3 with three shutouts. During the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, he won 10 of 14 starts to help Colorado to a championship.

The Ducks had the third-best odds (11.5%) of landing the No. 1 pick of the 2024 NHL draft. They stayed where they were projected, earning No. 3 pick.

May 7, 2024

Rittich and Kuemper are the only goalies with NHL experience in the organization, although Blake is high on Erik Portillo, who played well for the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, this season.

“We’re familiar with the character,” Blake said of Kuemper. “But I think the tandem with David — David played well for us last year — we’ve had to go with different goalies here the last couple of years. We have comfort in those two getting us to where we want to get to.”

The general manager did not the close the door on veteran Cam Talbot, who had a 2.5 goals-against average in 54 regular-season Kings games in 2023-24, but said talks about a new contract have not taken place.