Reports have surfaced from NHL insiders that the Seattle Kraken have jumped head first into the free agent market by inking three important players to their defense and goaltending.
One of the worst-kept secrets, in recent days has been the rumored signing of Florida Panthers free agent goaltender Chris Driedger. Driedger was not protected by the Panthers, but is also an unrestricted free agent.
Driedger is coming off his best NHL season as the part-time starter for head coach Joel Quenneville with a 14–6–3 record, 2.07 goals against average and .927 save percentage. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the 6-foot-4, 210-pound, 27-year-old goaltender has a deal in place that would pay him $10.5 million over three years ($3.5 million average annual value).
As we await what SEA decides with Carey Price, word is that the Kraken are closing in on FLA’s Chris Driedger at 3x$3.5M. I dont believe that precludes them from selecting Price, but one goalie appears locked-in.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 19, 2021
Depending on the results of Wednesday night’s expansion draft, Driedger could emerge as the Kraken’s starter when the season begins in two October.
In addition to the goaltending news, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravelli reports that the Kraken have agreed, in principle, to contracts with former Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson and former Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who will become Seattle’s expansion draft picks from their respective former teams.
Early word is #SeaKraken are closing in on contracts with two UFA defensemen: Adam Larsson (EDM) and Jamie Oleksiak (DAL).
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 21, 2021
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson followed up to report that the terms of the Larsson contract are believed to be $16 million for four seasons ($4 million AAV). No terms for the Oleksiak deal have been discussed.
Larsson and Oleksiak would nail down two very good defensive defensemen for Kraken General Manager Ron Francis to build around. Larsson has re-emerged as one of the top shutdown defensemen in the league, and Oleksiak’s 6-foot7, 255-pound frame brings an immediate element of size and physicality to the Kraken back end.
Last season with the Oilers, Larsson had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 56 games. Oleksiak finished last season with 14 points (six goals, eight assists) while playing for Dallas. Points are not what makes these players desirable to Francis, though. Their jobs will be to keep opponents from filling the Kraken net.
More to come following this evening’s expansion draft, which will be held at 8 p.m. EDT, 5 p.m. PDT. The expansion draft will be broadcasted in the United States on ESPN2 and will be the first NHL event broadcasted on the ESPN family network since the NHL’s United States broadcasting rights changed from NBC this offseason.