Marek Raises Suggestion Of Kuemper-Dubois Trade; Would Something Like That Work For Capitals? Breaking It Down

The Capitals are looking to add some help on offense this summer.
Marek Raises Suggestion Of Kuemper-Dubois Trade; Would Something Like That  Work For Capitals? Breaking It Down - The Hockey News Washington Capitals  News, Analysis and More

The Washington Capitals have some questions to answer over the course of the offseason, and insider Jeff Marek had an interesting suggestion come up regarding what to do with goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Marek mentioned in his latest Rink Fries column that someone from an NHL team (not the Capitals or Los Angeles Kings) suggested trading Kuemper for Pierre-Luc Dubois, as the deal would seemingly benefit both parties, with Washington needing help up front and the Kings needing to revamp their goaltending.

It’s an interesting hypothetical, one without any merit or legitimate speculation behind it, but would it work or even make sense?

Let’s take a look.

First off, the Capitals do need to add some offense and bringing in another top center would go a long way with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom no longer in the picture. D.C. managed just 2.53 goals per game this season, ranked for fifth-least in the NHL.

Dubois, 25, is a strong center who has displayed offensive prowess and high potential over the course of his still-growing career. He has three 60-point campaigns and four 20-goal seasons under his belt, and he is continuing to grow in many aspects of his game.

Pierre-Luc Dubois ready to feel right at home with the Kings - Los Angeles Times

However, he underwhelmed in his first year in Los Angeles as the second highest-paid player on the roster ($8.5 million AAV) after his blockbuster sign-and-trade over the summer.

Through 82 games, he had 16 goals and 24 assists for just 40 points and struggled to find consistency, and in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the high-flying Edmonton Oilers, he had just one goal. He was also a minus-9 on a team with a plus-41 goal differential.

His effort was also criticized at different points of the season, which Dubois said on breakdown day wasn’t the year he wanted to have.

“Was it frustrating? Yeah. Did I play like I can? I think on some nights, some games, some spurts throughout the season,” Dubois said on breakdown day.

Given his struggles, Los Angeles is in an interesting position where it now has to make a decision regarding a forward that was supposed to pack a punch offensively and change the landscape up front for the Kings.

Still, there’s upside for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound pivot, who can bring speed and be an X-factor when he’s on his game.

Looking at the other side of the hypothetical trade, Kuemper is coming off a challenging season in the Nation’s Capital where he lost the starting role to Charlie Lindgren. Through 33 games, the 34-year-old posted a 3.31 GAA and .890 save percentage while struggling to get back to the basics that made him a Stanley Cup champion just two years ago.

Kuemper has three years left on his contract that carries an AAV of $5.5 million. General manager Brian MacLellan said he expects Kuemper to bounce back, while insider Elliotte Friedman said after the team’s elimination that he believes the Capitals could be looking to move on from Kuemper.

Darcy Kuemper Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images -

Given both of their struggles, a change of scenery could stand to benefit both, and it would also take some weight off with their cap hits leaving behind $3 million, but whether it’s the right fit is a different story.

And at the end of the day, Dubois may not be the best fit for D.C.

While the team could benefit from a top center to help complment Alex Ovechkin, Dubois has not yet shown that he can be that player. His cap hit is also a heavy investment, and he has not yet proven himself to be worth the star-studded deal he signed with the Kings last summer. Though trading Kuemper would alleviate some of that, it would still be a lot to take on, especially with Dubois signed for seven more years.

Dubois has also already been on three different teams, and Washington may not want to commit long-term to a player who’s moved around quite a bit and has a reputation. There are also a number of rising centers in the organization that have shown they can do the same thing as Dubois for a lower price tag.

Free agency and the trade route will provide several options for the Capitals to ponder this summer, and going in on one player alone to bolster the offense won’t go a long way.

Overall, while Dubois is an interesting name with a lot to prove, it isn’t the right move for D.C., unless there is salary to be retained. Then, it may be worth a look.

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