NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Rick DiPietro era on Long Island is officially over.
According to a report in Newsday, the Islanders will use a compliance buyout to rid themselves of the remaining eight years and $36 million on the now-31-year-old goaltender’s once-historic contract.
The Islanders will owe DiPietro $1.5 million for each of the next 16 seasons, but none of it will count against the team’s salary cap.
DiPietro was once considered the franchise’s savior, after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2000. Then in 2006, owner Charles Wang inked his goaltender to a then-15-year, $67 million deal, a contract that turned into an albatross and a source of embarrassment for the franchise because DiPietro couldn’t stay healthy.
A variety of knee and hip injuries limited DiPietro to just 50 appearances, including 47 starts, over the last five seasons.
DiPietro cleared waivers and was demoted to Bridgeport after just three starts this past season. And even though he played better in the minors it became evident he no longer fit in the Islanders’ plans.
DiPietro finished 130-136 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .902 save percentage, with 16 shutouts during his 11 seasons on Long Island.
The Islanders appear to be in the market for at least one goaltender and could very well trade for one or try to sign one once the free agency signing period starts on Friday.
Veteran Evgeni Nabokov, who is 38 and coming off a poor postseason, will reportedly test free agency, youngster Kevin Poulin is a restricted free agent and former Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, a financial acquisition last season to help get the Islanders to the cap floor, reportedly announced Monday he will play next season. However, it is believed the Islanders will not toll his contract, allowing the 39-year-old to become an unrestricted free agent.
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