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Kings acquire goaltender Darcy Kuemper from Capitals for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois

Rob Blake solved his goaltending problem and shipped away one of the worst moves of his seven-year tenure as the Los Angeles Kings vice president and general manager on Wednesday.

Blake and the Kings acquired goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Washington Capitals for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois in a trade of high-priced, underachieving players.

"I don't think I did a good enough job integrating him in the right roles on the team I think it wasn't a great fit in that aspect for us, and we take responsibility for that," Blake said to reporters a couple of hours after the trade was announced.

Kuemper was the second goaltender to be traded Wednesday, after the New Jersey Devils got Jacob Markstrom from Calgary.

Los Angeles didn't have a lot of cap room going into the offseason after it acquired Dubois from Winnipeg and signed him to an eight-year, $68 million contract last season. The center struggled and had career lows for a full season in goals (16) and points (40).

Dubois, who turns 26 on Monday, was relegated to the Kings' fourth line in the playoffs, when they lost in five games in the first round to eventual Western Conference champion Edmonton.

Blake and the Kings though were running out of time to make a decision on Dubois' future. The league's contract buyout period is 48 hours after the last game of the Stanley Cup Final. If Florida beats Edmonton on Friday, Dubois' buyout would have been one-third of his remaining base salary since he would have still been 25 years old.

If the series went the distance and ended on Monday, the buyout would have gone to two-thirds since he turns 26 on June 24.

Dubois also had a no-trade clause that would have kicked in on July 1.

Blake said a buyout was not an option and cited that timing was of the essence to get a deal done with the Capitals. The teams started discussing the trade during last week's NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo.

Los Angeles, which hasn't won a playoff series since winning its second Stanley Cup title in three years in 2014, was in the market for a goaltender. Before acquiring Kuemper, David Rittich was the Kings only goaltender under contract for next season.

Kuemper, who has three seasons remaining on a five-year $26.25 million contract he signed with Washington in 2022, ended up being the backup to Charlie Lindgren when the Capitals were swept in four games in the first round by the New York Rangers.

The 34-year old Kuemper appeared in 33 games with 30 starts for Washington last season. He was 13-14-3 with a 3.31 goals-against average and one shutout.

Kuemper has played for five teams during his 12-year NHL career, including the Kings. He signed with Los Angeles as a free agent in 2017 and went 10-1-3 with a 2.10 GAA in 19 games (15 starts) before being dealt to Arizona near the trade deadline in 2018.

Blake is hoping that the duo of Kuemper and Rittich can provide stability in net for at least a couple of seasons.

"We've had to go to different goalies here in the last couple of years for different circumstances. But, we have comfort in those two getting us where we want to go," Blake said.

This will be Dubois' fourth team in eight seasons. He forced a trade to Los Angeles last year after previously telling Winnipeg he intended to become an unrestricted free agent when his contract expired after the 2023-24 season.

The Jets had acquired Dubois from Columbus in January 2021 after saying he no longer wanted to play for the Blue Jackets, who drafted him third overall in 2016.

Getting Dubois fills a void at center for the Capitals, who traded Evgeny Kuznetsov to Carolina at the deadline, and clears a logjam in goal. They would like prospect Clay Stevenson to either earn an NHL promotion, or the 25-year-old could start in the American Hockey League if Hunter Shepard gets the nod to play in tandem with Lindgren next season.

The Capitals are hoping that Dubois returns to his previous form. He had career highs with 63 points and 36 assists in 2022-23 and has scored at least 20 goals four times.

"We are thrilled to announce the addition of Pierre-Luc to the Caps organization," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. "This acquisition brings in a talented 25-year-old with immense potential to become a top-tier center in the NHL. With his size, exceptional skating, and high hockey IQ, we are confident he will thrive in our organization with increased responsibility and opportunity."

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