With the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft coming up Wednesday, July 21, a big choice is to be made in terms of who they’re getting in net. Due to goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky’s no-movement clause in his contract, the Florida Panthers will be forced to leave goaltender Chris Driedger exposed to possible selection. In addition, according to TSN, all signs are pointing towards him signing with the Kraken. If they were to select him, they have an exclusive 48-hour window to negotiate with him on a potential contract. Even though he played at an all-star level last season and will surely be missed by Florida, it is ultimately the best-case scenario for the Panthers to part ways with him.
Florida Keeps Their Forward and Defensive Structures Intact
After losing forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Reily Smith to the Vegas Golden Knights Expansion Draft back in 2017, fans are worried that they might go through the same torture in less than a week (‘Florida Panthers lose not one, but two leading scorers to the Vegas Golden Knights’, Miami Herald, 6/21/17). With the previously mentioned update from TSN, fans can take a massive sigh or relief as this selection will keep most of the roster that drove them to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.
With this in mind, it will be easier for Panthers’ general manager Bill Zito to sleep at night as they will be able to keep the pieces of their roster that were left unprotected, such as Frank Vatrano, Noel Acciari and Radko Gudas.
Spencer Knight Will Be in the Cats’ Goalie Tandem
After the great performance of young goaltender Spencer Knight near the end of the regular season and in the playoffs, he easily slotted himself into the lineup as a backup goaltender. Being drafted 13th overall in 2019, this is only a small step for his future as a true goaltender in the NHL. With this, he’ll get the experience he needs and will be on an entry-level deal for the next two seasons before it’s time for his first big NHL deal.
With the 82 game season returning in October, it’s more than likely that he’ll see the ice for some time, depending on Bobrovsky’s performance. Last season was not so great for the veteran goalie as he had a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.91 and a save percentage (SV%) of .906. With Knight posting a .933 SV%, a 2.06 GAA and losing only one game last season, he could steal the starting job from Bobrovsky.
Driedger Will Get a Starter Shot in Seattle
Assuming TSN’s expectations are correct, Driedger will have a shot to own the starter’s crease as a Kraken. After his performance last season with 23 wins, a 2.07 GAA and a .927 SV%, he’s definitely earned the right to a shot as the number one goaltender in the Emerald City. Furthermore, he’s only 27 years of age, so he may be entering the prime of his career.
Additionally, assuming he starts off as a backup, he’ll develop himself even more as he’ll more than likely receive lessons a seasoned goaltender that may possibly get selected from the draft. This includes candidates such as Vancouver’s Braden Holtby, Montreal’s Carey Price or Dallas’ Ben Bishop. Driedger going to Seattle in any sort of fashion will work out the best for him overall.
Conclusion: Everybody’s A Winner
If this scenario plays out this way, everyone involved wins in some sort of way. Florida does not lose any big pieces to their forward or defensive core, Driedger gets a shot at being a starter in his change of scenery in Seattle, and Knight takes the next step in becoming an NHL goaltender.
Driedger’s journey into the NHL is something out of a movie, with him being buried in the minors with the Ottawa Senators until the Panthers gave him a shot. As previously shown, he has flourished in his time with Florida, so to see him develop into such a great player should make everyone on that team proud. The best part about it all is that he has a chance to bring a brand new hockey team to new heights, and he could be the face of the franchise.
My name is Joey. I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward to you reading my articles!