Continuing our best of series, today we will look at the best player to wear number 39 for the New York Islanders in their history.
In the New York Islanders history, 11 players have worn the number 39. The first to ever do it was Mike Walsh during the 1988 season. Some other notables are Hubie McDonough, Travis Green, Scott Pearson, Sean Haggerty, and Ray Schultz.
Of this batch, we’re going to go with Green for our honorable mention. The Isles selected the center in the second round of the 1989 NHL Draft (23rd overall).
Green would make his NHL debut during the 1992-1993 season as a 22-year-old, playing in 61 games and putting up 25 points along the way. He also played in 12 playoff games for the Isles that year, scoring three goals.
Green’s best year with the Isles came in 1995-1996, as he was a point per game player scoring 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists) in 69 games. He followed that up with a 64 point season and then during the 1997-1998 season, the Isles moved him in a blockbuster trade.
Green, Doug Houda, and Tony Tuzzolino went to Anaheim in exchange for Jean-Jacques Daigneault, Mark Janssens, and Joe Sacco. In six years on the Island, Green finished with 237 points (92 goals, 145 assists) in 388 games played.
Our winner today, is Rick DiPietro. Yes, DiPietro never lived up to the hype of a number one overall pick for multiple reasons but he is still the best to ever do it in the number 39.
In his first full year as a starter, 2003-2004, D.P. had a .911 save percentage and a 2.36 goals-against average. Arguably his best year was in 2006-2007 as a 25-year-old, when he had a .919 save percentage and 2.58 goals-against average finishing eighth in Vezina voting.
He would put up one more solid season with the Isles, playing 63 games with a .902 save percentage and a 2.82 goals against average before the wheels fell off. From 2008-2009 through 2012-2013, DiPietro played 50 games.
He averaged just 10 games per year for the final five years of his career due to a laundry list of injuries. In 11 years with the Isles, DiPietro finished with a .902 save percentage and a 2.87 goals against average.
Yes, he never lived up to the first-overall pick status or that massive contract extension but he was solid for the Isles in net for four straight years in the early 2000s. Who knows where the Isles would be if he stayed healthy for the entirety of his career.
Maybe they’re not bad enough to land Tavares in 2009, maybe they beat the Penguins in the 2013 playoffs. Yes, obviously keeping Roberto Luongo would’ve been the right move but we can still appreciate what Rick DiPietro was able to do for this team.