The New York Islanders put veteran goaltender Rick DiPietro on waivers Friday afternoon, according to the team, but don't expect anyone to claim him and take on the eight years and $36 million left on his contract (via Capgeek).
The former No. 1 overall pick from Boston University signed a 15-year, $67.5 million contract with the Islanders before the 2006-07 season, which will expire in the summer of 2021.
DiPietro is a talented player, but injuries have prevented him from being able to stay healthy and play on a consistent basis. Over the last four-plus seasons (including 2013), he has played in only 50 games. In three games this year, DiPietro is 0-3 with 12 goals against and an .855 save percentage.
What does this waiver move mean for the Islanders?
Will DiPietro make an NHL roster next season?
When no one claims him, DiPietro will go to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, which is the Islanders' AHL affiliate. Players on a one-way contract like DiPietro can only be sent to the AHL if they clear waivers first, which gives every team a chance to claim him and possibly offer him an opportunity for an NHL job.
Arthur Staple of Newsday reports the team's plans for when DiPietro's waiver process completes.
Intent is to send DiPietro to Bridgeport. Kevin Poulin to be recalled once DiPietro clears. #Isles— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) February 22, 2013
Poulin is 15-13-3 with the Sound Tigers this season and made his NHL debut with the Islanders last season when he appeared in six games (2-4-0).
He's one of the top young goaltenders in the organization, and giving him another opportunity to prove himself at the NHL level is a smart idea because current No. 1 goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is not going to be part of the Islanders' long-term plans.
Poulin has the talent needed to be a good NHL goaltender, but he's never going to reach his potential without enough experience at the top level.
There's no reason to have DiPietro take starts away from young goalies when the Islanders are probably not going to contend for the playoffs this season. New York is currently 12th in the Eastern Conference standings with 15 points, and the team has lost seven of its last 10 games.
At the end of the season, the Islanders are expected to use one of their two compliance buyouts from the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to part ways with DiPietro and free up some additional salary-cap space from the team's payroll. He's not worth a $4.5 million cap hit with his injury history and inability to perform at a high level.
With DiPietro in Bridgeport and Tim Thomas enjoying time with his family in Colorado instead of playing hockey, the Islanders will have $8.6 million in salary-cap space for this season used on two goaltenders who likely won't play another game for the team. Thomas' contract ($5 million cap hit) will expire in July.
Here is what DiPietro's buyout would look like, per Capgeek:
Rick DiPietro buyout from CapGeek.com
- 2013-14: $1,500,000
- 2014-15: $1,500,000
- 2015-16: $1,500,000
- 2016-17: $1,500,000
- 2017-18: $1,500,000
- 2018-19: $1,500,000
- 2019-20: $1,500,000
- 2020-21: $1,500,000
- 2021-22: $1,500,000
- 2022-23: $1,500,000
- 2023-24: $1,500,000
- 2024-25: $1,500,000
- 2025-26: $1,500,000
- 2026-27: $1,500,000
- 2027-28: $1,500,000
- 2028-29: $1,500,000
The Islanders would be paying DiPietro until he is 48 years old if they buy him out in the summer, which isn't an unfamiliar situation for the team because it won't be done with former star Alexei Yashin's buyout until he is almost 42 years old.
Friday's events are another sad chapter in DiPietro's career. Bad luck with injuries ultimately prevented him from developing into the star No. 1 goalie he had the potential to become. Hopefully DiPietro can stay healthy and earn an NHL job for the 2013-14 season because his Islanders career is likely over.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs.