As we all know, the Seattle Kraken will be hitting the ice in October, becoming the NHL’s 32nd team in a shiny downtown arena. The Kraken will become the second expansion team in the last five years to join the NHL, however, I expect Seattle to take a different approach than Vegas did in the expansion draft, especially seeing that there aren’t as many marque goaltending names out there. Over the next few months, Seattle’s general manager, Ron Francis, and his crew will look to put together a competitive hockey team for the city of Seattle and look to try and match, if not, exceed what the Vegas Golden Knights did in their inaugural season. Here are the top five goaltenders that the Seattle Kraken should consider for their roster. So without further delay, Let’s Get Kraken.
Linus Ullmark (Buffalo Sabres)
One of the bigger names out there for Seattle is Buffalo goaltender Linus Ullmark. Yes he’s still young, but as the Sabres should’ve figured out by now, it’s not working and they have a pipeline of young goaltending prospects, along with Dustin Tokarski, who deserves to see more net time in Buffalo. 21-year-old Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is going to end up being another solidified name for the Sabres in the coming years. If Buffalo was smart, they would have gotten a return for Ullmark at the deadline seeing that their season is sinking faster than the titanic. Now, they are either going to have to spend big to keep him, or else the alternative, which is lose him for nothing. The Sabres also saw the debut of Michael Houser on Monday night and I expect him to be another option for them in net moving forward. So, it goes without saying they have multiple options if they decide not to bring Ullmark back.
It has, however, been rumoured that Buffalo is working with Ullmark on a new extension, but the team has a lot of expiring contracts to renew, including Rasmus Dahlin, who is finishing off his three-year, entry-level contract. Ullmark has spent his entire career with the Buffalo Sabres and is one of the longest-tenured players in Upstate New York. The 27-year-old backstop becomes a free agent and a fresh start out west could be a good opportunity for him. The only downside to Ullmark is that he hasn’t started more than 34 games in a season and he would be expected to carry the weight as the Kraken’s starter.
Frederik Andersen (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Our own Justin Levine has reported that Toronto’s Frederik Andersen could be on his way out, and after five years with the team, his contract also expires at the end of the season. Andersen, in my opinion, can still be a top-tier goalie in the NHL if he’s able to stay healthy and find his game. Along with that, the big stage of Seattle won’t phase him after spending the past five seasons in Toronto. It also isn’t much of a surprise that the 31-year-old netminder is the most notable name on my top five. One interesting fact about Andersen is that he’s played in at least five Stanley Cup Playoff games each year of his career, however, that streak may just be coming towards an end.
In 392 career games, the Danish goaltender has put up a record of 226-100-47. He’s done so with 19 shutouts, a 2.64 GAA and a .915 save percentage. However, this season, injuries have limited Andersen to only 23 games with the Leafs and has opened the door for Jack Campbell to steal the starters job in Toronto. The move to get David Rittich was another sign they’re ready to move on from Freddy. A new start is exactly what Andersen needs, and in a brand new environment, it’s another way to get his name back on the radar.
Pavel Francouz (Colorado Avalanche)
We head out west for our next option in Pavel Francouz from the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have a very solid goaltending tandem this season, with Philip Grubauer backed up by Francouz. It comes as no surprise that Colorado is one of a few teams that wouldn’t be killed if they lost Francouz, as they have Grubauer, who has been their No. 1 for the past two seasons. Through his rookie year, Francouz has put up a record of 21-7-4 with a .923 save percentage. He also recorded a shutout and a GAA of 2.41. This would be another solid option for the Kraken heading into their inaugural season. However, there is a slight risk involved seeing that Francouz is going to be 31 and just finishing his rookie season.
Just like Buffalo, Colorado has two big contracts to renew in Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog at the end of the season. The Avalanche currently have Hunter Miska and Adam Werner stored in the American Hockey League, however, I believe that both have the ability to play in the NHL in the next two or three years, if not, as the starter or full-time backup for Colorado. The two of them have seen a combined seven games in the NHL throughout their young careers thus far.
Chris Driedger (Florida Panthers)
The Florida Panthers are overflowing with goaltending, as they currently have Sergi Bobrovsky, Chris Driedger and Spencer Knight all showing that they have what it takes to be an NHL starter. The one problem for Florida is that they have to protect Bobrovsky due to the expansion draft rules and it’s going to be close to impossible to move that big of a contract out. Spencer Knight has proven in a short time that he can get the job done by becoming the youngest goalie to start his career 4-0-0. The future of the Panthers is in Spencer Knight, so there is no way that the Panthers would let go of him.
The move to Florida from Ottawa has paid off dividends for Driedger, as he’s appeared in 22 games with the Cats, putting up a record of 13-6-3. He also recorded two shutouts, a 2.17 GAA and a .923 save percentage. The Winnipeg native is only 24-years-old and has shown his worth with the Florida Panthers. In my opinion, this is one of the best long-term options that the Kraken could make in between the pipes. Driedger is definitely going to be on the move this offseason, so the question now lies, where’s he off to?
Jake Allen (Montreal Canadiens)
If Seattle wants to go down the experience route, then Jake Allen is definitely going to be considered by Ron Francis and his team. In some aspects, one could say the Montreal Canadiens can’t afford to lose Allen because realistically, they don’t have another goaltender who’s capable of filling in for Carey Price, who’s been injury-prone over the past few years. Another factor is that the goaltending market this summer isn’t like last year’s group and it would be hard for the Canadiens to find someone who’s within the same price range of what the team is paying Allen. The real question Seattle must ask itself is, is Jake Allen still an NHL starter.
The 30-year-old backstop had spent his first seven seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, which included a Stanley Cup Championship with the team in 2019. This was before joining the Canadiens this past September on a two-year contract. In 313 career games, Allen holds a career record of 159-104-30 with a GAA of 2.51. Along with 21 shutouts, he also owns a a .912 save percentage. However, he has not been a team’s No. 1 goalie since the 2017-18 season when he hit the ice in 56 games. Over the past two seasons, Allen’s appeared in a total of 49 games.