The agent for Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper has confirmed that he has spoken to teams in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League about signing Kuemper if the goalie is unable to work out a contract with the team and General Manager Chuck Fletcher.
"Basically, Chuck and I are stuck," Kuemper's agent Jeff Helperl told the Star Tribune's Michael Russo.
Kuemper is a restricted free agent. According to Russo, Helperl is asking the Wild for a one-year, one-way contract, meaning he would be paid his NHL salary whether he plays in Minnesota or in the American Hockey League with Iowa.
According to the report, the Wild are offering Kuemper a two-year deal – the first year would be a two-way contract, meaning Kuemper would be paid a lower salary if he plays in the AHL and a higher salary if he plays in the NHL, the second year would be a one-way contract.
TSN's Bob McKenzie sent out tweets saying something similar.
"It comes down to Darcy has to play somewhere this year," Helperl told the Star Tribune. "Minnesota, they're stuck on giving Darcy a two-way deal and I think Darcy deserves more. I've basically told Chuck, 'we're looking at a one-way deal on a one-year contract.'"
Pro Hockey Talk points out that Kuemper was slow to sign his entry-level contract with the Wild after he was drafted in the sixth round in 2009. Apparently Helperl has a knack for pushing Fletcher hard.
Forward Nino Neidereitter has yet to sign a deal with the Wild, too, but Russo wrote on Sept. 1 that delays like this aren't uncommon.
"Usually, this stuff works itself out right before camp begins. Kuemper is 24. Niederreiter turns 22 on Sept. 8, so at such young ages and with such competition in camp, it certainly won’t help matters if they miss the start of camp."
Veteran goalies Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding are healthy after ailments cut their 2013-14 seasons short; so Minnesota has a pair of goalies ready for the start of the season.
Minnesota starts training camp Sept. 18, with its first preseason game Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. against the Winnipeg Jets. Players are already in the Twin Cities working with each other at Braemar Arena in Edina.
Here's to hoping Kuemper gets to wear his newly designed mask for the Wild this year.