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FHN Today: Bill Zito wishes Chris Driedger well with Seattle Kraken

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Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger takes a break during warmups in the 2021 season. Driedger was selected by the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

With the Seattle Kraken taking free agent goalie Chris Driedger in Wednesday’s NHL expansion draft, the Florida Panthers did not lose a single player.

Although the Panthers — and Driedger — would have rather their relationship was able to continue, the reality of things was that Driedger was moving on this summer. Going to Seattle appears to be the best move for both sides.

Driedger gets a chance to be an NHL starting goalie after two strong seasons with the Panthers. Florida, meanwhile, had a protected list that was made moot by Seattle signing Driedger.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for Chris and, you know, he has earned everything,” Florida general manager Bill Zito said during his entry draft media availability on Thursday afternoon.

“I am truly happy for him and am sad that he is not a part of our organization. He was a part of our team and our room. It wasn’t just on-ice contribution, it was who he was as a person. He was very popular with our team. Best of luck to him — most of the nights of the year, anyway.”

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Zito had a few updates on some other Florida business as well.

As for Aaron Ekblad, Zito confirmed that the defenseman is skating and looks like he is healed up from the fractured leg sustained in a game in Dallas last March.

Zito also said negotiations with pending unrestricted and restricted free agents are ongoing. The Panthers are thought to be trying to re-sign Alex Wennberg before the NHL free agency period opens next week.

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The Panthers can also sign captain Sasha Barkov to a long-term extension starting next week.

We will have more on what Zito had to say about this weekend’s entry draft on Friday morning.

FLORIDA PANTHERS LINKS

Only three years ago, Driedger was running out of options if he wanted to continue to play hockey. He even considered going to Europe.

But then the Panthers offered a minor league contract. He took it and has never looked back. Driedger is not only thankful to the Panthers, but excited about what’s coming next in Seattle. (FHN)

— Five European players to watch in the upcoming entry draft. (Panthers)

— Who are the owners of Florida’s sports teams? (PB Post)

AROUND THE NHL

Checking out the new Kraken lineup by the numbers. (NHL)

— Meet the people who built the Kraken. (The Athletic)

— Pittsburgh traded Jared McCann to avoid losing him and then lost Brandon Tanev. Did the Pens overthink things? (PHN)

— Seattle took McCann meaning Toronto only lost prospect Filip Hallander. Looking at all the salary space the Kraken have right now. (PHN)

— Puckpedia has the complete roster with salaries and such.(Puckpedia.com)

— Could Boston go after Conor Garland? The latest Bruins mailbag.(BHN) 

— Is Long Island becoming an NHL hotspot? (NYIHN)

— Losing Carsen Twarynski could be a big deal to the Flyers and shape their offseason.(PHN) 

— What is the trade market for Evgeny Kuznetsov? (WHN) 

— Good for the Red Wings: They kept the player they were losing a secret the longest.(DHN)

— Who is Alexander True and how did he end up leaving San Jose for Seattle? (SJHN)

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