ARIZONA COYOTES

Coyotes G Darcy Kuemper nears return, Jakob Chychrun week-to-week

Feb 24, 2020, 5:18 PM | Updated: 5:31 pm
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Arizona Coyotes during the second period of the NHL game agains...
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Arizona Coyotes during the second period of the NHL game against the Nashville Predators at Gila River Arena on October 17, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right after the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday, it appears that the Arizona Coyotes may be adding a player of great significance in goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

The 29-year-old Kuemper, who was named an All-Star this season but hasn’t played since Dec. 19, played for the Tucson Roadrunners on Saturday night as he recovers from a lower-body injury. He was called back up on Sunday and practiced with the Coyotes on Monday.

“Kuemps had a really good practice today,” head coach Rick Tocchet said Monday. “Tomorrow, we’ll evaluate again, but he should be ready to go.”

The Coyotes have a 7 p.m. game at home against the Florida Panthers. Tocchet said if Kuemper is ready to go on Tuesday, he’d like to have him start in goal. Antti Raanta has carried most of the load since Kuemper has been out. Adin Hill has backed up Raanta, but Arizona sent Hill to Tucson (AHL) on Monday.

“It’s huge. He’s been our best player,” Tocchet said. “The last year, he’s been our best player. So having him out for two, three months, it’s been tough when your best player’s out.

“But saying that, it’s just not all on Kuemps. We’re getting good goaltending. So that’s not the issue. Especially the last four or five games, ‘Raants’ has come in there and played some good games. Actually, Hilly played really good in Dallas and Toronto. So for me, it’s other areas that we’ve got to improve on, but the goaltending’s been really good for us.”

JAKOB CHYCHRUN OUT

Jakob Chychrun (lower-body) has missed the previous two games, and Tocchet said Monday his return wouldn’t be “for the next few games,” and after that, a timeline isn’t clear.

“He’s probably a little bit of a week-to-week right now,” GM John Chayka said. “But it’s tough with an athlete like Jakob. When he gets injured, it’s not a typical recovery. He’s not dealing with something serious, but it’s something that he’s got to get through and with the skating motion to make sure it’s 100%. To try to put a timeline on it would be difficult, so he’s not going to be ready for tomorrow, but he’s also not out for the season or anything like that.”

Chychrun has previously done well in recovering quickly from injury, to which Chayka alluded.

Some good news for the blueline is that defenseman Jason Demers appears close to returning from injury, perhaps this week.

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