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Top 25 Under 25: #9 Darcy Kuemper

Another day, another article in our first ever "Minnesota Wild Top 25 Under 25" series.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, Kuemper really needs no introduction, but here's a short one all the same. He's a 24 year old (who won't be eligible for this list next year) goaltender from Canada who has played in 32 NHL regular season games and 8 playoff games over the last two seasons (posting save percentages of 91.5% and 90.6% respectively). He was thrust into a starting role for the Wild last season due to Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding being placed on IR and was excellent at 5v5, posting a save percentage of 93.38%, good for 8th in the league among goalies who played 1000 minutes or more.

I did a major study into his numbers last season trying to find comparable goalies to him to see if I could work out the chances of his 2013/14 not being just a fluke. The closest comparable I found was James Reimer, who is a starting calibre young NHL goalie, which bodes well for Kuemper (though nothing is set in stone). I recommend you read through that article for some in-depth thoughts on Kuemper.

Another reason why I am optimistic about his chances of establishing himself as a starter for the Wild is that he has had a lot of success throughout his career and has long been touted by scouts (even when Matt Hackett was grabbing all the headlines in town) as being the most talented goalie in the Wild's system and the one destined for success at NHL level.

He has a lot of poise in the net and he's a big, athletic goalie. He's taken advantage of an opportunity right now. He's a talented kid. -Chuck Fletcher, Jan 2014

It's worth remembering that Kuemper isn't all that young. Some analysts have argued that 24 is around the time when goalies usually hit the beginning of their prime. That's why I believe now is the time to let Kuemper be the starter for this team. If he completely fails, well then we know that he's not a starting goalie and the team can do what it needs to do to acquire one.

If Kuemper was coming off the back of a 2nd straight 93%+ season (with a large share of minutes), he would easily have broken the top-5 of these rankings as legit starting goalies who are still in their prime don't come along every day but, unfortunately, due to sample size issues it's still extremely difficult to gauge what his true potential is and therefore his solitary appearance in our Minnesota Wild Top 25 Under 25 series sees him rank #9.

Do you agree with this ranking? Disagree? Leave a comment and don't forget to share on Twitter and Facebook so we can keep the debate going.