February 24: Driedger has cleared waivers, per NorthStar Bets’ Chris Johnston.
February 23: The Seattle Kraken have placed goaltender Chris Driedger on waivers, which could indicate he’s ready to return from the offseason surgery that has kept him out of game action all season. With two NHL goaltenders already in place, the Kraken will likely send Driedger to the minor leagues if he clears.
One of the original Kraken, selected in the 2021 expansion draft, Driedger, at that point, was coming off a breakout season with the Florida Panthers. After registering a .927 save percentage in 23 games with the Panthers, there was talk about Driedger all across the league as a potential available starter. The Kraken selected him and gave him a three-year, $10.5MM contract, only to sign Philipp Grubauer to a much bigger deal a few days later.
That made Driedger the backup by default, and things didn’t go well in his first year with Seattle. With an .899 save percentage in 27 appearances, he (along with Grubauer) was a big part of the team’s collapse in their first year.
After the season ended, Driedger went to play with Canada at the World Championships, where he suffered a serious knee injury. Surgery and a long rehab have followed, without any game action.
One interesting wrinkle in today’s waiver placement is that Driedger could have been loaned to the Coachella Valley Firebirds on a long-term injury conditioning stint, without worrying about waivers for the time being. By doing it this way, the team can not only keep him in the minor leagues for as long as they want, but also potentially entice another team to take him—and his $3.5MM cap hit—off their hands.
Driedger is signed through next season but it is hard to predict where his career will go from here. The Kraken still have Grubauer under contract long-term and probably don’t want to be rolling out that tandem again next season. It makes almost no sense for anyone to claim him, but if he does pass through, perhaps a team would be interested as a goaltender they can keep in the minor leagues.