Kuemper picks up shutout in Iowa, return to Minnesota looming

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Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper is nearing a return to Minnesota.

The 24-year-old has been on a conditioning assignment with the Iowa Wild in the AHL since the NHL's All-Star break and his allowed time there will come to an end on Monday.

At that point, Minnesota will have to decide if they will call up Kuemper, or expose him to waivers by leaving him in Iowa.

As his return to Minnesota nears, Kuemper had one of his best games at Iowa, Wednesday night.

Gone Puck Wild notes Kuemper made a few huge saves in the game, to help the Iowa Wild end a six-game losing streak. In three games at Iowa, Kuemper has a 2.64 goals against average and a .918 save percentage, but his play has improved in each game.

"I felt much better in the second game," Kuemper told the Pioneer Press in a phone interview. "Just got to keep building off that. It feels good to get some game reps in."

While Kuemper has been returning to form in Iowa, recently acquired Devan Dubnyk has been helping to get the Wild back into playoff contention.

But Pro Hockey Talk notes the period of simplicity is about to come to an end. When Kuemper does return, Minnesota will have three goalies on their roster – Kuemper, Dubnyk and Niklas Backstrom.

With four straight victories and three shutouts in eight starts, for the Wild, Dubnyk has done nothing to not hold on to the number one spot for now.

According to the Star Tribune, Wild coach Mike Yeo doesn't really have a plan for how he's going to handle the situation yet, but acknowledged the team has seen progress from Kuemper.

"I'm really pleased to hear he had a great game (Wednesday)," Yeo told the newspaper. "That was the goal here. I actually liked his game in Detroit, when he came in relief, but he has played very little hockey lately. So we wanted to give him a chance to get a good base underneath him again, play some games, get confident in himself, play in a situation where the pressure and all the focus is not on you."

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