Chris Driedger: ‘No-brainer’ joining Seattle Kraken on new contract
The Seattle Kraken selected three goalies in their expansion draft on Wednesday, and the man who appears primed to get most of the playing time in the net is Chris Driedger, who was Seattle’s selection from the Florida Panthers.
Driedger, 27, was a third-round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2012, and after playing sparingly in the NHL to start his pro career, Driedger played much more for the Panthers the last two years – 35 games, averaging roughly two goals allowed per contest while saving roughly 93% of shots against him.
Drideger was one of the first players who knew they were joining the Kraken. Since Driedger was a pending free agent, the Kraken were able to discuss a deal with him prior to the expansion draft as they had an exclusive negotiating window. Driegder signed a three-year deal with Seattle worth over $10 million.
The new Kraken goaltender joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Thursday to talk about why he felt Seattle was a good fit for him as he takes the next step in his NHL career and much more. Here’s what he had to say.
Why the Kraken?
Had Driedger chosen to, he could have told Seattle “thanks, but no thanks” and tested free agency next week. So why didn’t he?
“There were multiple teams interested,” he said. “When it came down to the wire and Seattle offered (me the deal) it was an absolute no-brainer. I just kind of view it as opportunity-wise I knew they had a high opinion of me.”
Driedger said that the Kraken made it known months ago that they were considering him either in the expansion draft or in free agency.
“So I’d kind of given some thought to playing in Seattle already,” he said. “… Coming to Seattle, it kind of seemed like they wanted a 1-A, 1-B situation (at goalie) with a good tandem, so that’s the best-case scenario for me. There’s a ton of opportunity and I’m still early in my career here, so I’m excited to get this started.”
The other two goalies Seattle added in the expansion draft are Joey Daccord from the Senators and Vitek Vanecek from the Washington Capitals.
Getting to Seattle
Because Driedger got to negotiate a new deal, he knew a few days prior to the expansion draft that he would be playing in Seattle next season. That wasn’t the case with some of his new Kraken teammates.
“We were negotiating and we came to a deal a few days before (the expansion draft),” he said. “So for the other guys here in Seattle, they found out literally like the night before the draft. So at least I had a little bit of a heads up, which was nice. I knew I was making the trip out (for the draft).”
Driedger flew in from Boston, and he and the team tried their best to keep his journey to the city under wraps.
“We were kind of staying undercover,” Driedger said. “My hotel room was under a different name and stuff like that, so that was kind of cool to see.”
In addition to meeting some of his teammates and other members of the organization, Driedger also got to check out Climate Pledge Arena for the very first time.
“My mind’s still trying to process the amount of detail of the arena at Climate Pledge,” he said. “It’s really, really cool. The locker rooms are state of the art and all the lounges and all that stuff.”
Working with GM Ron Francis
The Seattle Kraken’s general manager, Hall of Famer Ron Francis, was previously with the Carolina Hurricanes. Last season Driedger saw a lot of Carolina, a team that still has Francis’ fingerprints on it, and said he got a good feel for how Francis wants his team to look through that experience.
Driedger also got to know Francis though contract negotiations prior to the expansion draft.
“I’ve got a lot of faith in Ron and he seems like a really stand-up guy with a really brilliant hockey mind,” Driedger said. “I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about Ron. During (contract) negotiations, he was great. He kind of laid out his plan for the team and his vision and it aligns with what I want to do and where I see my career going. It just seems like a no-brainer and great fit.”
Who is Chris Driedger?
We know Driegder is a well-regarded goalie, but how does he see himself as a player and teammate? Here’s what he told Jake and Stacy:
“As a player, I would say as a goaltender I try and be calm. My three words I try and live by is calm, cool and collected … that’s kind of my game.”
“As a teammate, honestly I just try and contribute as much as I can,” he later said. “Even though it’s just me in the net, you need the whole team to win. I try and build trust with the guys so that through the highs and lows we can kind of stick together, and if you have that trust then in the lows it’s a lot easier to get out of them.”
Listen to the full interview with Driedger at this link or in the player below.
More Seattle Kraken coverage
• Kraken Expansion Draft Breakdown: Close look at all 30 picks
• Kraken expansion draft: Side deals absent, salary cap clear priority
• Seattle Kraken expansion draft tracker: All 30 picks
• NHL insider: Why you can expect several Kraken trades after draft