The Red Deer Rebels’ star goaltender Darcy Kuemper scored a big-league contract this week.
Kuemper, the Western Hockey League’s Goaltender and Player of the Year, has agreed to a deal with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.
Kuemper now bolsters and already deep goaltending prospect pool featuring German standout Dennis Endras, and Houston Aeros rookie Matt Hackett who has led his team to the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Finals.
Kuemper found out on Wednesday night from his agent that an agreement was completed.
“I was really excited and happy to hear that the agreement was done,” said Kuemper. “I’ve loved my time there getting to know the organization and the city. And I’ve really enjoyed my time in Houston as well.”
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher says he’s excited to have Kuemper in the Wild’s goaltending mix.
“He had an outstanding season with Red Deer and we’re looking forward to watching him continue his progression toward becoming an NHL goaltender,” said Fletcher.
A sixth-round draft pick (161st overall) in 2009, Kuemper led the WHL in every major goaltending category including wins (45), goals against average (1.86), save percentage (.933) and shutouts (12).
“After a summer of hard work, I was really just concentrating on getting off to a good start,” he said of his remarkable start to finish the 2010-11 campaign. “I had confidence early because I was a veteran and knew exactly what to expect. And that confidence grew throughout the year and I was able to keep up the pace.”
His stellar season led to mild speculation that he would be difficult to sign, and if the Wild had not come to an agreement with him, he could have regained his draft eligibility in June.