Chris Driedger's Kraken Journey Faltered, but a Cup Win is Still Possible

Vince Carbonneau
June 14, 2024  (8:28)

Chris Driedger in action
Photo credit: The Seattle Times

Driedger's Unexpected Calder Cup Journey

This wasn't the championship Chris Driedger envisioned when the Seattle Kraken selected him from the Florida Panthers in the July 2021 expansion draft.
The Kraken had high hopes for Driedger, flying their projected No. 1 goaltender to Seattle for live televised onstage draft festivities right after he inked a free-agent contract. However, while his former Florida team sits two wins away from a Stanley Cup victory over Edmonton, Driedger finds himself leading the Kraken's AHL affiliate, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, in their quest for Calder Cup glory against either the Hershey Bears or Cleveland Monsters.
Driedger never expected to spend the final two seasons of his three-year, $10.5 million Kraken deal competing for titles a notch below the NHL. Yet, ever the optimist, he's cherishing this unexpected opportunity to chase hardware and create lasting memories.
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«It's been a lot of fun,» said Driedger, who turned 30 last month. «I've never been in this position as a pro. Being able to join a team that's firing on all cylinders and having a chance to win a championship with an incredible group of individuals is really special.»
After dispatching the Milwaukee Admirals on the road in a Western Conference-clinching Game 5 last Saturday, the Firebirds headed straight to Hershey, Pennsylvania. They knew the championship round would start on the road and anticipated it being in Hershey, although the Bears have since blown a 3-0 conference final lead, forcing a Game 7 on Wednesday night.
Whoever the Firebirds face, it's an opportunity for Driedger to continue boosting his stock in anticipation of an NHL return, which is unlikely to be with the Kraken. If he maintains his stellar playoff run with a 10-2-0 record and .927 save percentage, his $3.5 million annual salary will make him the highest-paid netminder to ever lead a team to Calder Cup victory, underscoring his unique journey and potential for a triumphant return to the NHL.
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Chris Driedger's Kraken Journey Faltered, but a Cup Win is Still Possible

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