The Islanders are very well situated this upcoming season in terms of goaltending. They have a number of prospects ready to be called up and become backup to current starter Evgeni Nabokov. The only issue is Rick DiPietro.
DiPietro is apparently healthy for next season, something we've heard again and again for the past few years. One thing is certain, time will not be taken away from Nabokov and his starts so that DiPietro can make another attempted return. That much was made certain when the veteran goalie re-signed with the team last March.
They have their No. 1, but who will be the backup goalie for the Islanders next season? This is where the situation gets rather precarious. Last year proved that the three-goalie system doesn't work. Nobody can gain any rhythm or consistency out of the system.
Indications are that rookie Kevin Poulin is ready to take the first step on the path to becoming starter for the 2013-2014 season. Poulin had some marvelous moments at Bridgeport, but his success was marred by a few early goals in multiple games, calling into question whether he's ready for the big leagues.
DiPietro on the other hand, not so much. He took a puck off the head early in the season, then suffered a sports hernia that required surgery, effectively ending his year. On top of that, DiPietro's numbers weren't exactly earth shattering in the games he played in: a 3.73 goals against average and an .875 save percentage.
It really comes down to this:
Make DiPietro the backup goalie, hope he stays healthy and that his numbers improve (which in all honesty doesn't seem very likely), or give Poulin the backup job to prepare him for the starting role in the 2013-2014 season.
Logically, the latter seems like a more favorable and realistic option. Poulin needs to get his feet wet this season if there's plans of him becoming the starter when Nabokov's contract expires. As for DiPietro, send him to the AHL to see if he can stay healthy and get back into game shape. No one will pick up his contract on waivers so it doesn't seem like that's an issue.
Poulin deserves a chance at the big leagues. DiPietro will either find himself scratched during games or in Bridgeport. There's no room right now for him honestly, the three goalie system doesn't work, Poulin needs the times to gain the experience for the starting position, and Nabokov won't have his practice and game time taken away on a chance return of DiPietro.