- Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.
In the NHL, we typically call July “cottage season.” After the free agency frenzy of July 1, players and executives get lost for a few weeks, retreating to summer homes and vacation spots across the world (though if it’s in Canada, that home is almost always called a cottage).
Nothing is typical about 2021. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup on July 7. The buyout window opened on July 8. Protection lists for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft were due over the weekend. On Wednesday, we’ll have the expansion draft, and the entry draft is Friday and Saturday. Then on July 28, free agency begins.
“Craziest three-week stretch I remember in my time in the league,” one front office executive told me last week. He has nearly two decades of experience.
I worked the phones over the past few days to get some buzz on what to expect this coming week, and beyond.
Kraken honing in on a netminder?
The Kraken will need at least two goalies, and it seems they have settled on one: Chris Driedger of the Florida Panthers. In fact, word is Driedger should be signing a multi-year deal after being the selection from the Panthers; I’ve heard it’s in the three-year range.
There are some great, young, budget-conscious options for Seattle to choose if Driedger is goalie 1A. I texted an NHL goalie coach on Sunday to find out whom he would choose as the backup to Driedger. His answer: Kaapo Kahkonen of the Minnesota Wild or Vitek Vanecek from the Washington Capitals.
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