|Courtesy of Jason Villeneuva|
Goaltender, 6'4" 212 Pounds
Ontario Reign (ECHL)/Houston Aeros (AHL) 7-1, 1.74/.941 Save% (8 games)/ 6-6-4, 2.36/.923 (19 Games)
A byproduct of the 2009 Entry Draft Day trade that brought Kyle Brodziak to Minnesota (Chuck Fletcher traded a 4th and 5th round pick to Edmonton for Brodziak and Edmonton's 6th round pick, 161st overall), Kuemper has excelled since he was scout at Hockey Canada's Goalie Camp by Goalie Coach Bob Mason and then-Assistant GM Tommy Thompson. The large and athletic goalie has gone from project to legitimate goaltending prospect since that point.
After being acquired by The Red Deer Rebels from the Spokane Chiefs, Kuemper posted a 21-25-1-7/2.96 GAA/.898 SV% and followed up that season with an improved 28-23-4/2.78/.908 line, which included a four game stint with Houston at the conclusion of Red Deer's season, in which he went 2-1/2.41/.886.
2010 is when he went off, inserting himself into the discussion of potential goalie of the future- in 62 games he went 42-12-5/1.86/.933, winning The WHL Goaltender of the Year, Player of the Year, First Team Eastern Conference All Star, and The Canadian Junior Hockey Goaltender of the Year awards. He was subsequently rewarded with an Entry Level Deal. It didn't stop there- starting off last season with Ontario of the ECHL, he got off to a strong start, moving up to Houston when Matt Hackett was recalled (who went on to set the rookie goaltender mark for consecutive shutout minutes to start a career) and then winning AHL Player of The Week. Ultimately shoulder surgery in Late March ended his season early, although he should be fully recovered in time for the AHL season to begin.
It looks as if it will be an intense friendly competition in Houston next year, as Kuemper and Hackett will support and battle each other for the starting spot, which will be another storyline to follow as The Aeros will be chock full of prospects during what looks to be another lockout-stricken NHL season.
Previous 2012 Minnesota Wild Top 20 Articles:
#13 - Erik Haula
#14 - Daniel Gunnarsson
#15 - Raphael Bussieres
#16 - Kris Foucault
#17 - Nick Seeler
#18 - Tyler Cuma
#19 - Chay Genoway
#20 - Tyler Graovac