The Seattle Kraken have signed ex-Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger to a three-year deal carrying an annual cap hit of $3.5 million. This serves as their selection from the Panthers roster during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
Before his arrival in South Florida, Driedger played in the AHL with the Ottawa Senators organization, playing in just three NHL games at the time. He even had some struggles at the AHL level, going 2-5-0 with a .885 save percentage (SV%) and a 4.04 GAA in his last season with the organization in 2017-18. He was sent down to the ECHL, putting up a 9-7-1 record with a .922 SV% and a 2.55 GAA with the Brampton Beast.
After signing a two-way contract with the Panthers, Driedger’s AHL numbers drastically improved. He played in 32 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds, boasting a record of 18-10-3 with a .924 SV% and a 2.45 GAA, which was an improvement from even his ECHL numbers the year before.
In November 2019, Driedger received a call-up from the Panthers after leading the AHL in SV% with a .938 while boasting a 2.09 GAA with a 6-8-0 record. He played 10 games that season, backing up Sergei Bobrovsky, posting an impressive 7-2-1 record with a .932 SV% and a 2.29 GAA.
Related: Seattle Expansion Draft Tracker
He earned himself the backup crease again in 2020-21, starting 23 of Florida’s 56 games that season with Bobrovsky struggling heavily, and the Panthers were able to rely on him. He posted a 14-6-3 record with a .927 SV% and a 2.07 GAA. His SV% and GAA ranked fifth in the NHL out of all goaltenders who played at least 20 games during the 2020-21 season.
With Bobrovsky not playing well enough in the playoffs, Driedger was called on to take over the crease again. However, he hit a bit of a wall, holding an 0-1 record in the three games he played in, posting a .871 SV% and a 3.70 GAA. He started two games, one of which the Panthers were able to win in overtime after Bobrovsky entered the game. 20-year-old netminder Spencer Knight took the starter’s crease in the final two games of the playoffs, posting a 1-1-0 record with a .933 SV% and a 2.06 GAA.
Now that Knight is in the equation in Florida and will likely take the backup job next season, Driedger found himself as the odd man out. But with his production in the past two seasons, the Kraken may have found their first-ever starting goaltender.
What Driedger Brings to Seattle
While Driedger still has a small NHL sample size, playing just 38 games over two seasons, it is no secret that he strives at the NHL level. Posting a 21-9-4 record, he has a 2.09 GAA and a .929 SV% in his NHL career. With that equating to nearly the workload of a full NHL season, he has proven that he can be reliable when given the chance.
At worst, Driedger will be a solid 1B option for the Kraken, serving a pivotal role in keeping the team afloat when called upon, but judging by his time in Florida, he could provide a lot more than that. He was a top-five goaltender in the league last season, and he could be an elite backstop for Seattle, giving them someone they can trust for years to come.
Driedger is only 27 years old, which is fairly young for a goaltender, so he could be their go-to for years to come if this contract pans out, and Ron Francis could be looking like a genius for signing him.
Whether Driedger reaches his full potential or not, he looks to be a reliable option in the crease and will at least be able to provide stable production on a decent workload for years to come.
Notable Panthers Left Unprotected
- F Noel Acciari
- F Ryan Lomberg
- F Aleski Saalera
- F Frank Vatrano
- D Radko Gudas
- D Brandon Montour
Colby Guy is a writer for the Florida Panthers department here at THW. He’s a senior at Florida Atlantic University and currently serves as a social media manager and photographer for FAU Owls Nest. Previously, Colby has written for FanSided as a New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators writer. He also served as Editor-In-Chief for FAU’s University Press.