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Panthers lose Chris Driedger to Kraken in expansion draft

As expected, the Seattle Kraken selected and signed Florida Panthers pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Chris Driedger in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

It doesn’t appear that the Panthers made a side deal with Seattle, but we won’t know for sure until this afternoon.

In his final season with the Panthers, the 27-year-old Driedger posted a 14-6-3 record, a sparkling 2.07 GAA, a .927 save percentage and three shutouts.

With news breaking early yesterday of the Kraken also inking UFA defensemen Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak, it appeared for a moment like general manager Ron Francis. might aggressively try to fashion a playoff caliber roster out of the draft, but that was not the case. Francis took the expected conservative approach, leaving Seattle with plenty of cap space to work going forward. Seattle’s current 30 players account for just over $54 million of a possible $81.5 million salary cap.

Despite the contrary view held by many in the press and on social media, the Kraken ended up with a roster very much like the Vegas Golden Knights had post expansion draft, with the only real difference being Vegas used all four of the non-mandated picks on defensemen, while Seattle used three of those picks on blueliners. The Golden Knights initial haul came in at very similar number financially. Vegas did land a “face of the franchise in likeable veteran keeper Marc-Andre Fleury, Seattle did not. The Kraken will have add the type of player via trade or free agency or hope someone steps into the role. I’d say the early Golden Knights were better off offensively while Seattle has put together a very solid group of defensemen.

As we move forward into the offseason, starting at 1 p.m. today, look for some Kraken-related trades to be announced, and for Francis to start dealing off his glut of defensemen.

Let’s meet the Kraken

Goalies (3): Chris Driedger (Florida), Vitek Vanecek (Washington), Joey Daccord (Ottawa)

Defensemen (12): Mark Giordano (Calgary), Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas), Adam Larsson (Edmonton), Carson Soucy (Minnesota), Haydn Fleury (Anaheim), Jeremy Lauzon (Boston), Kurtis MacDermid (Los Angeles), Vince Dunn (St. Louis), Will Borgen (Buffalo), Dennis Cholowski (Detroit), Gavin Bayreuther (Columbus), Cale Fleury  (Montreal)

Forwards (15): Jordan Eberle (New York Islanders), Yanni Gourde (Tampa Bay), Joonas Donskoi (Colorado), Brandon Tanev (Pittsburgh), Jared McCann (Toronto), Calle Jarnkrok (Nashville), Mason Appleton (Winnpieg), Colin Blackwell (New York Rangers), Tyler Pitlick (Arizona), Morgan Geekie (Carolina), Nathan Bastian (New Jersey), Kole Lind (Vancouver), Alexander True (San Jose), Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia), John Quenneville (Chicago)