It appears that Rick DiPietro has indeed played his final game in a New York Islanders uniform. It was reported on Twitter from Arthur Staple of Newsday that the Islanders will place the goalie on waivers with the intent of buying out the remainder of his contract.
DiPietro still has eight years left on the deal and was set to make $4.5 million annually. He signed the landmark 15-year, $67.5 million deal in September of 2006, and since then it has been a bit of a rough going for the netminder, who appeared in 319 games for New York, going 130-136-36 with a 2.87 GAA and .902 save percentage.
One of the biggest highlights for DiPietro was setting an Islanders record by making 56 saves in one game in a shootout loss against the New York Rangers in 2007. After that spectacular night, however, his career started going south. It all started with a concussion late in the 2007 season that lead to his injury troubles.
The injury problems that the goalie had suffered through over the next few seasons really began to chip away at his confidence and overall skills.
From my point of view, this buyout has been about a year or so overdue. It wasn’t fair to both DiPietro or the Islanders to still hang on to him when it was clear that he wasn’t the same goalie he had been before the injuries started to take their toll. Signing any player to a contract of ten years or longer is a huge risk, and the risk factor is even greater for goalies because there is no guarantee that the play of the goalie will be the same throughout the contract length.
By using a compliance buyout, the Islanders will pay DiPietro $1.5 million annually for the next 16 years. That money would not count against the salary cap. It is not known whether or not DiPietro will be able to catch on with another NHL team, or if he even wants to. When the buyout process is complete, the Islanders will be paying DiPietro until the 2028-29 season, making his association with the team span almost 30 years.