New York Islanders Failures at the Draft Table
Drafted (Year/Position): 2000, 1
Career Stats: GP: 318/GAA: 2.87/SV%: .902
Draft Class: Dany Heatly (2), Marian Gaborik (3), Scott Hartnell (6)
It’s hard to imagine that anyone who plays 318 games in the NHL to be a bust. But there are a few factors to consider when looking at Rick DiPietro‘s New York Islanders career that not only make him a bust but make him the biggest bust in Isles franchise.
Let’s first consider his draft position; first overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Being taken first overall is a badge of honor that not many get to wear. Ask Jack Eichel how being second feels? He’d probably rather play in Buffalo than Edmonton, but it’s the pride of being top of your class.
Being first overall means that the player was projected to be elite in the NHL. Not a generational talent like Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, or Connor McDavid, but certainly a player that will be the cornerstone of the franchise.
The New York Islanders believed this when they drafted Rick DiPietro in 2000. So much so that they traded current up-and-coming goaltender Roberto Luongo the very next day to the Florida Panthers. The Isles had drafted Luongo 4th overall just three years prior to drafting DiPietro.
DiPietro had a rough start to his career posting a 3.49 GAA and .878 SV% in 20 games. Absolutely awful numbers. Isles GM Mike Milbury sent DiPietro to the team’s AHL affiliate in an attempt to shelter his star acquisition and let him grow.
DiPietro neve worked out for the Islanders. In the years that followed the former number one overall missed games almost every year due to injury. There were a few years where DiPietro found some relative health between 2003-2008.
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In those four seasons, DiPietro played an average of 60 games a year but posted a dismal 2.70 GAA and .908 SV%. His play earned him a 15-year $67.5 million contract from the franchise. A contract that the Islanders are still liable for to this day.
Bleacher Report put together ten reasons that this contract was the worst contract in NHL history. DiPietro’s numbers alone should have been cause enough to warrant the franchise to think twice about offering such a deal.