New York Islanders Ten Years After: The Rick DiPietro Contract

Ten years ago the New York Islanders made history, at least then, by giving former first overall pick the longest contract ever given to a player. A contract that would, and continues to haunt the Islanders.

On this day 10 years ago, the New York Islanders and first overall draft pick in the 2000 draft agreed to a 15 year $67.5 million contract. A deal that wouldn’t be eclipsed in length for another five years. When the New Jersey Devils decided the NHL needed to restrain GMs and owners from being absolutely reckless with their team’s money and the spirit of the salary cap.

The Isles drafted DiPietro thinking they had their cornerstone goaltender, a game changer between the pipes. But DiPietro was never anything more than average. Both before and after he signed that monster deal.

SeasonAverageDiPietro
2003-04.9112.46.9112.36
2005-06.9012.93.9003.02
2006-07.9052.77.9192.58
2007-08.9022.61.9022.82

All averages and DiPietro's stats are from hockey-reference.com

DiPietro gave the Islanders four decent years between 2003-04 and 2007-08. Before injuries hi-jacked his career and rendered him useless for the Islanders. And eventually forced DiPietro to retire.

The deal was understandable for one reason, and one reason only; the salary cap. The 2005-06 season saw the introduction of a hard salary cap, the first ever in the sport of hockey. Under the salary-cap teams could only spend a certain amount on players.

Finding Value in New Cap Era

For a team like the New York Islanders, this would mean finding value. If you’re a GM and you can lock up your cornerstone goaltender to a multi-year deal at a flat rate you’ve found value.

Spending $4.5 million for what GM Garth Snow thought would be his starter for the foreseeable future is a smart idea. Where we start to question this deal is over just how long it was for and to whom it was given.

At the time of singing DiPIetro was 24 years-old. Meaning that by the end of the deal he would be 39 years-old. There’s a reason that Jaromir Jagr is such a remarkable story. Players just don’t make it to their forties in the NHL. Father time is undefeated. Age will always catch up to players.

What made the Islanders think Rick DiPietro would be any different is…confusing. It just doesn’t make sense. And boy did they pay for such hubris.

From 2008 to 2010, DiPietro played a total of 13 games for the Islanders. Total. Injuries would claim both seasons from DiPietro. And eventually his entire NHL career.

In 2013 the Islanders would bite the bullet on the DiPietro contract and buy him out. Using one of the clubs compliance buy-outs from the new CBA, DiPietro would no longer be an Islanders. Ending 

 

I don’t blame DiPietro for signing the contract. The Islanders were the ones to offer him such an outlandish deal. In the world of professional sports, you take what’s give and don’t ask questions. Thankfully the league enacted the Kovalchuck rule so the Isles couldn’t do this to themselves a third time. Oh yeah, they did this even before DiPietro! Say it with me: Alexei Yashin.