The Seattle Kraken announced today that goaltender Chris Driedger tore his right ACL while playing for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships and underwent knee surgery yesterday as a result. As part of the team’s release, the Kraken stated that the surgery was successful and that Driedger’s recovery and rehab program is expected to last seven to nine months, meaning Driedger will be out until at least early 2023.
This update comes as a significant blow for Driedger, as he was likely eyeing 2022-23 as a chance to bounce back from his difficult debut campaign in Seattle. Driedger, 28, was one of the Kraken’s expansion draft selections and signed a $3.5MM AAV deal in Seattle with the idea that he could possibly end up being their starting goaltender. That didn’t end up happening, though, as Seattle jumped at the opportunity to sign Philipp Grubauer, and thanks to Grubauer’s presence along with some injury issues Driedger only managed to get into 27 games this season. Driedger posted an .899 save percentage, a sharp decline from the .927 mark he posted in 2020-21 and the .938 he had in 2019-20. With this injury, Driedger now cannot devote his full focus to improving his performance and now must focus first and foremost on his recovery.
For Seattle, the loss of Driedger means the team will in all likelihood need to add a goalie to back up Grubauer until Driedger is back at full strength. The team does have 25-year-old Joey Daccord ready as their third goalie, and he did have a solid AHL campaign with a .925 save percentage, but his .850 save percentage at the NHL level left much to be desired and it’s possible that Seattle would want a more proven option behind Grubauer. The backup goalie market is set to feature names such as Casey DeSmith, Dustin Tokarski, David Rittich, and Scott Wedgewood, to name just a few. Given how much the team is currently spending on Grubauer and Driedger, and knowing Driedger will recover from his injury and be eventually ready later in the 2022-23 season, it’s fair to wonder what sort of price range the Kraken will be operating within as they try to fill the hole left by Driedger’s absence.
While Driedger’s injury is undoubtedly unfortunate for all parties involved, the addition of a new goaltender from outside the organization to back up and potentially even push Grubauer for starts could be what the Kraken’s number-one netminder needs to bounce back from his nightmarish 2021-22 season.