The Seattle Kraken have an enormous amount of decisions to make in the next few months as the expansion draft rolls in. The team must select players from 30 teams and decide on the core of their team for the immediate future. The Vegas Golden Knights hit the jackpot when the opportunity to bring in Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh became a reality, giving them a face of the franchise, which he continues to be. Now the Seattle Kraken must look to see who can man the net for the next few years.
There are a number of possibilities, including a number of free-agent options for the team, including Philipp Grubauer, Tuukka Rask, Linus Ullmark, Antti Raanta, Mike Smith, Jonathan Bernier and Chris Driedger to name just a few.
However, in his new mailbag piece while talking about goaltending options for Toronto next season, The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required) mentions that Driedger isn’t a likely option for the Maple Leafs as sources are telling him that Seattle likes Driedger as one of their goalies for next season.
The idea makes some sense as Driedger, while a latecomer to the NHL, has seized his opportunity with the Florida Panthers despite the fact that they signed Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year, $70MM contract back in 2019. The 26-year-old dominated in 12 appearances in 2019-20 with a 2.05 GAA and a .938 save percentage and has proven he can keep producing, posting a 2.17 and .923 save percentage in 22 appearances this year.
The team chose not to trade Driedger at the trade deadline even though the goaltender would have brought in a significant return. However, with the Panthers success during the regular season, holding onto Driedger for the postseason was too important to allow the netminder to leave.
However, with free agency approaching as well as a significant payday, the Panthers likely can’t afford to pay big money for Driedger to serve in either a tandem or backup role to the high-priced Bobrovsky. On top of that, Florida just signed top goalie prospect Spencer Knight, who has already made his NHL debut and is next in line to step into the backup role at some point. That leaves Driedger out in the cold and looking for a new job. While there are plenty of teams who will be looking for a netminder next offseason, Seattle could be quite an intriguing option for Driedger.
Unfortunately for Seattle, the team has only a 48-hour exclusive window before the expansion draft to negotiate with Driedger and any other UFA and have them agree to terms, which means they could select him with their expansion pick. Driedger would have to be willing to go to Seattle as opposed to signing with a number of interested teams.