Chris Driedger will be paid.
Currently a free agent, the 2020-21 breakout start netminder for the Florida Panthers was hand selected by the newest NHL franchise, the Seattle Kraken, at the NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday evening.
Taken alongside fellow goaltenders Vitek Vanecek (Washington) and Joey Daccord (Ottawa), Driedger will be the elder statesman of the crew of backstops for the first-year franchise. With the other two still on entry-level contracts, he will also be the highest-paid of the crew. It has been reported that Driedger and the Kraken have neared an agreement on a three-year deal worth roughly $3.5 annually.
Chris Driedger, reportedly signing with SEA 3x$3.5M, has had exceptional results in a very small sample. It's a risk to be sure, and the Scott Darling comparable isn't too far off. #SeaKraken pic.twitter.com/RuFqLBV9y4
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 19, 2021
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 was certainly due for a raise this coming off-season. And with the Kraken, he will get it, to the tune of $10.5 million over three years.