SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken got their goaltender in the expansion draft — just not the big-name star everyone was talking about.
Seattle plans to select Chris Driedger from the Florida Panthers, a late bloomer who was a pending free agent, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The 27-year-old Canadian goalie has agreed to a $10.5 million, three-year contract.
It was one of at least two signings the Kraken got done before submitting their expansion draft selections by Wednesday morning’s deadline, about 10 hours before the draft. Another person with knowledge of the move said they agreed to terms with defenseman Adam Larsson on a $16 million, four-year contract.
Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team was not announcing any moves until the draft.
The Kraken have 30 picks in the draft, one from every team except Vegas. Mock drafts have been popular for months about what Seattle might do in a milestone event for the city.
Picking Driedger cast doubt on the likelihood of Seattle selecting Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who was stellar on a run to the Stanley Cup final but has a questionable injury status. Price is signed for five more years at a salary cap hit of $10.5 million, and the potential of him missing the start of next season rehabbing from knee surgery clouded the situation.
Larsson, a 28-year-old Swede, was a pending free agent the Edmonton Oilers were interested in re-signing but still left unprotected after trading for Duncan Keith.
“He is obviously an unrestricted free agent,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said recently, “and Adam has to make a decision as to what he feels is best for himself and his career.”
Larsson, a veteran of 603 NHL regular-season and 24 playoff games, can now be a top-four option on the right side of the Kraken blue line in their inaugural season.
Driedger had found his form the past two seasons with Florida. He went 21-8-4 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. Still, the Panthers expected to lose Driedger, either to Seattle or in free agency. They have two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky signed long term and have top prospect Spencer Knight ready to step in.
By TIM BOOTH and STEPHEN WHYNO AP Sports Writers
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