The Florida Panthers have agreed to terms with goaltender Chris Driedger on a two-year two-way extension, keeping him in the organization through the 2020-21 season. Driedger was set to become a Group VI unrestricted free agent this summer after failing to get much NHL opportunity in his career so far.
Driedger, 24, was a third-round pick by the Ottawa Senators in 2012 but received just three NHL appearances with them over the years. The rest of his time was spent in the minor leagues—both the ECHL and AHL levels—until they eventually decided not to issue him a qualifying offer in 2018. After signing an AHL deal to play with the Springfield Thunderbirds, Driedger earned himself a two-way NHL contract at the most recent trade deadline to give the team some extra goaltending depth down the stretch. He still never played for the Panthers, but after they moved Michael Hutchinson they needed an extra body in case of injury.
That’s the same role he’ll likely fill going forward, as the team has several other goaltenders in the system already. Roberto Luongo and James Reimer are both under contract still, while Sam Montembeault is deserving of a new deal. There is also the chance that the Panthers go after someone like Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency, pushing everyone even further down the ladder.
Still, this is obviously a nice bit of stability for Driedger who played extremely well for the Thunderbirds this year. In 32 appearances he recorded a .924 save percentage, the highest mark of his career at any level. If he can continue that performance he’s still young enough to perhaps earn an NHL role at some point down the line.