Rick DiPietro was the No. 1 overall selection by the New York Islanders at the 2000 NHL Draft by general manager Mike Milbury. He entered the league with plenty of promise, but injuries derailed all that, and his long, strange NHL journey on Long Island will end this week as he becomes the teams' first compliance buyout.
From Arthur Staple of Newsday:
General manager Garth Snow, who informed DiPietro of the buyout Monday night, told Newsday: "It is an extremely tough decision to use the compliance buyout on Rick's contract. His drive to win games and compete at the highest level for the New York Islanders was never questioned. With Rick back at 100 percent health, we wish him nothing but the best as he continues to pursue his career."
Over the last five seasons, injuries held DiPietro to just 50 games in goal. In February, the Islanders decided to place him on waivers with the intention of sending him to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. In 18 games with the Sound Tigers, DiPietro was 9-9-0, with a 2.93 goal against average and .893 save percentage.
As part of the buyout, DiPietro will receive $1.5 million annually for the next 16 years. The money will not count against the Islanders' salary cap. Entering the opening of free agency on July 5, the Islanders have just over $8 million to reach the cap floor and have a little over $29 million to the ceiling, according to CapGeek.
The 31-year old DiPietro will be most remembered for the record 15-year, $67.5 million deal he signed in 2006. For as crazy of a contract as it was, it was the first of the super long-term contracts signed by numerous players between 2006 and 2012. You might call DiPietro a trendsetter in that regard. But as NHL owners, like DiPietro's good friend Charles Wang, found out, committing all that term and all those dollars to players isn't the wisest of decisions. (Meanwhile, the Islanders will be paying Alexei Yashin $2.2 million for the next two seasons as part of his buyout back in 2007.)
Will some NHL team take DiPietro on as a cheap reclamation project? There's a chance some GM will be brave enough to say "I can fix him." There's always one of those in the NHL.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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