Seattle Kraken goaltender Chris Driedger underwent successful knee surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament yesterday and is expected to be out seven to nine months, the Kraken announced on Tuesday, wiping away their primary backup option behind Philipp Grubauer.
Driedger is expected to return around New Year’s Day at the earliest, and as late as March.
Driedger was injured in the third period of Team Canada’s gold medal game on May 29 against Finland in the World Championship, a 4-3 Canada loss. The injury occurred on a game-tying, five-on-three goal by Mikael Granlund, who buried a rebound from the base of the left circle after Driedger was left to lunge unsuccessfully toward the blocker side post with his right leg.
Driedger left the game and was replaced by backup Matt Tomkins.
The procedure caps a tough year for Driedger which began with potential, selected in the expansion draft last summer from the Florida Panthers after a sparkling 14-6-3 record, .927 save percentage and three shutouts.
The 28-year-old netminder began the season behind Grubauer, a free agent signee, and endured separate bouts on injured reserve and in COVID-19 protocol, but showed flashes of promise despite a 9-14-1 season and .899 save percentage. He had, arguably, his strongest stretch of the season in April, splitting six games with a 3-3 record while recording a .921 save percentage and 2.19 goals-against-average.
With Driedger out for recovery, Joey Daccord could move up into the backup role or the Kraken could look to fortify their goaltending depth with an acquisition bearing more experience. Daccord, called up sparingly this past season from Seattle’s temporary AHL affiliate in Charlotte, was terrific with the Checkers by going 19-11-2 with a .925 save percentage but struggled in five games at the NHL level this season, going 0-4 with an .850 save percentage in Seattle.
Daccord, 1-8-1 in 14 career NHL games, has one year left on his current contract. Driedger just completed his first year of a three-year contract.
The NHL free agency period will open July 13.