Driedger, Larsson, Oleksiak sign contracts with Kraken

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Chris Driedger, Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak each signed a contract with the Seattle Kraken on Saturday.

Each could have been an unrestricted free agent and was selected by the Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft presented by Upper Deck on July 21.

Driedger signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract ($3.5 million average annual value). The 27-year-old goalie was 14-6-3 with a 2.07 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and three shutouts in 23 games for the Florida Panthers, and 0-1 with a 3.70 GAA and .871 save percentage in three Stanley Cup Playoff games (two starts) this season. Driedger ranked in the top 10 in save percentage (tied for fifth), GAA (fifth) and shutouts (sixth) among goalies who played at least 20 games. He is 21-9-4 with a 2.09 GAA, .929 save percentage and four shutouts in 38 games (34 starts) with the Panthers and Ottawa Senators.

“I want to bring consistency,” Driedger told ESPN2 after the expansion draft. “I take pride in staying calm in the net, steady. I want to build trust with my teammates.”

Larsson signed a four-year, $16 million contract ($4 million AAV). The 28-year-old defenseman scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 56 regular-season games for the Edmonton Oilers this season and ranked second in the NHL in blocked shots (128) behind Alec Martinez of the Vegas Golden Knights (168), and 10th in hits (166). He had two assists in four playoff games.

Selected by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 4 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Larsson has scored 137 points (25 goals, 112 assists) in 603 regular-season games for the Oilers and Devils, and nine points (three goals, six assists) in 24 playoff games.

Oleksiak signed a five-year, $23 million contract ($4.6 million AAV). The 28-year-old defenseman led the Dallas Stars with 148 hits, had 88 blocked shots, second to Esa Lindell (104), and scored 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 56 games this season. A first-round pick (No. 14) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Oleksiak has scored 72 points (24 goals, 48 assists) in 369 regular-season games for the Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins, and 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 43 playoff games.

General manager Ron Francis said Seattle expects to be active when the free agent market opens at noon ET on Wednesday.

“I think we’ll be consistent with what we have [done],” Francis said Saturday. “You saw the contracts that we submitted. They’re three years, four years and five years. I think ideally, in this [NHL salary] cap environment, keeping the terms to where we think make sense and the dollars we think make sense helps us moving forward in the long haul.

“But certainly we think there’s some players in free agency we’d like to have a discussion with, and hopefully we’re able to convince them to come and join our organization.”

The Kraken will play their first game at the Golden Knights on Oct. 12, the start of a five-game road trip before they open Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 23.

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