2020 may have been the worst year imaginable for many. Florida Panthers’ netminder Chris Driedger is not among that group.
Since his draft day in 2012, the now 27-year-old had, arguably, gone without a legitimate opportunity to prove his worth at the National Hockey League level. That is, until 2020. Beginning the year behind Sergei Bobrovsky and his $70 million contract, Driedger quietly strung together victory after victory, helping usurp the “No. 1 goaltender” title from the veteran keeper.
Finishing the 2020-21 season with a dazzling 14-6-3 record to go alongside three shutouts, a .927 save percentage and a 2.07 goals-against average, the career minor leaguer certainly found his place in a rotation that also includes Spencer Knight – AKA: the youngest goaltender in NHL history to begin a career 4-0-0. Driedger was also tied for seventh in goals-against average and save percentage while ranking fifth in even-strength save percentage (.931).
As well, to top off his tremendous season, Driedger was named the Panthers’ nominee for the 2021 Bill Masterton Trophy. The Masterton is awarded annually to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. He isn’t likely to win, but he certainly should. No one is more dedicated to the game and getting better at it than Chris Driedger.
Prior to 2020, the former Winnipeg Monarchs’ star backstop spent five years in the Ottawa Senators’ organization, including stops on six different affiliate clubs within the AHL and ECHL, before joining Florida for the 2018-19 season.
Having just completed a two-year deal that paid him $1.7 million over the past two years, the big netminder is certainly due for a raise this coming off-season. Whether that new contract comes with the Panthers, or elsewhere, the jury has returned a verdict: Chris Driedger is going to get paid.