The Islanders Are Officially Done With DiPietro

The New York Islanders have officially removed Rick DiPietro's name from their roster after using one of their two compliance buyouts on the former number one goaltender yesterday. The buyout will pay him $1.5 million over the next 16 seasons and makes him an unrestricted free agent in search of a new NHL home (Photo credit: xjowell/Flickr).

DiPietro was drafted by Mike Milbury with the 1st overall pick 13 years ago, making history in the NHL as he was the first goaltender to ever be selected first overall. He immediately began his career with the Islanders before seeing some time with the Isles AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

In 2006, new general manager Garth Snow inked the young, charismatic goaltender to a 15-year deal worth $67.5 million. It was a deal that many viewers laughed at, despite the fact that it would set the standard for many NHL contracts to come thereafter (see Alexander Ovechkin, Duncan Keith, Sidney Crosby, Roberto Luongo, etc.).

Regardless of what the future held for the rest of the league, DiPietro's contract with the Islanders would ultimately become an overbearing burden. Injuries were soon to follow as soon as his pen left his signature, nursing two concussions followed by surgeries to repair his hips and knees. He also had several other groin issues, as well as a broken face after suffering a one-punch knockout from Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson.

DiPietro was always an Islanders player at heart and showed that he wanted nothing more than to be a part of this franchise for the rest of his playing career. Many do not realize that DP could've ignored the 15-year offer and potentially have earned more money with a shorter contract down the line had he stayed healthy and became the number one goalie everyone envisioned. Security and commitment were more important to him, and he proved it by accepting an offer that gave him just that (GoalPro/Flickr).

But constant injuries and his eagerness to remain in the line-up despite his health issues made it hard for fans to continue to support DiPietro. It all looked as if every Islanders season was going to be about rehabilitating that once energetic and positive kid to a somewhat reliable goaltender - but that won't be the case.

Rick is currently speaking to his agent to see if any of the other 29 teams might be interested in signing him, as he feels this summer has been his healthiest one yet.

However, his history may give him a hard time finding a job. At best, he might find a tryout in training camp somewhere, but it also might not be surprising to see DP back with another NHL team's minor league club.

Removing DiPietro from the equation opens up plenty of avenues for the organization's future plans between the pipes. Kevin Poulin, who was recently extended a qualifying offer, has been waiting for his chance to earn a full-time NHL job. Anders Nilsson has also seen some NHL time, and some argue that he may have the brightest future between he and Poulin.

Neither one is ready for a full-time starting position at the NHL, especially if this team wishes to work for another playoff appearance for the second year in a row. With Evgeni Nabokov set to hit the open market tomorrow, the Islanders will definitely have to continue exploring their options for a number one net-minder.

As previously mentioned, Ray Emery will be looking for a new contract, or the Isles might look to make a trade with the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan Miller. Boston Bruins back-up goaltender Anton Khudobin will be available as well as of tomorrow, but he shouldn't, and probably isn't an option for the number one spot due to his youth and inexperience.

It's possible the Isles might be interested in signing Khudobin to play as a back-up behind a proven veteran, which would allow Poulin and Nilsson more time in Bridgeport.

Poulin and Nilsson are both only 23 years old, but have been part of the Isles farm system for quite some time. Signing a young goalie to be an NHL back-up when the organization currently has two  goaltenders who have been waiting and working for that opportunity might send the wrong message.

-Rob McGowan
F