New York Hockey: Rick DiPietro

DiPietro placed on waivers

July, 2, 2013
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As reported Monday evening, Rick DiPietro was placed on waivers Tuesday afternoon with the Islanders planning on using a compliance buy out on the oft-injured 31-year-old goaltender.

He was placed on unconditional waivers because the 15-year, $67.5 million deal he inked in 2006 did not include a no-trade clause.

Once bought out, DiPietro will be eligible as an unrestricted free agent on Friday.

In other housekeeping news, the Islanders extended qualifying offers to six of their restricted free agents: Josh Bailey, Brett Gallant, David Ullstrom, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey and Kevin Poulin.

Tuesday was the deadline for qualifying offers.

DiPietro's waiving could be end of an era

February, 22, 2013
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Rick DiPietroMike Stobe/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe Islanders placed Rick DiPietro on waivers Friday.
Rick DiPietro’s 15-year, $67.5 million contract might forever be used as the NHL’s cautionary tale against long-term deals, but the goaltender’s days as the franchise whipping boy could finally be ending.

The Islanders placed the 31-year-old netminder on waivers Friday afternoon, a move that indicates his injury-riddled time with the team is likely done.

As his surgeries, fractures and rehab assignments have piled up throughout the years, DiPietro has been the subject of ridicule and scorn from a fan base that is understandably maddened by the team’s decision to keep him around.

Little changed this season for DiPietro, who recorded losses in all three of his starts and has a ghastly 4.10 goals-against average and .855 save percentage.

Finally, it seems as though the Islanders have had enough.

DiPietro will report to the team’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn., once he clears waivers -- that’s right, once, not if -- and it is expected the team will summon 22-year-old prospect Kevin Poulin from the minors to back up veteran starter Evgeni Nabokov.

The Islanders still must pay DiPietro’s salary while he is down in Bridgeport -- he is due $4.5 million annually through 2021 -- and his prorated cap charge (minus $900,000, per the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement) will remain, but this potentially paves the way for the team to buy him out this summer.

Each team is allowed two compliance buyouts -- to be used in the summers of 2013 and 2014 -- by the new collective bargaining agreement, although the team’s immediate plans on the matter are not clear.

A compliance buyout would take off DiPietro’s cap hit and pay him two-thirds spread out for the remaining years of his contract, although it’s possible the team might be more amenable to exercise the old buyout terms on DiPietro, thus keeping his cap charge to count toward the cap floor.

“You would think they will buy him out after this season," an NHL team executive told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun. "If they do, they might not use the transition buyout so that his buyout counts against the floor going forward."

"We haven't given that any consideration at this point," Islanders GM Garth Snow said when reached by phone Friday afternoon. "I'm not going to speculate what the future may hold."

The team, which has missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, also has routinely struggled to reach the cap floor.

That was, in fact, an impetus behind the team’s move to acquire veteran goaltender Tim Thomas and his $5 million cap hit in a trade with the Boston Bruins earlier this month. Snow said at the time that he wanted to provide his team "flexibility" by adding Thomas’ 35-and-over contract. The Islanders do not have to pay Thomas a dime in actual salary while he is not playing -- he said this summer he is taking the season off from hockey to spend more time with his family -- although they retain his cap hit.

A few other interesting points to consider:

If this is indeed an attempt to cut ties with DiPietro, it could be seen as a move to divest the franchise of the ill-advised contract to make the club more attractive to a potential buyer. Reports surfaced last week that team owner Charles Wang, who has hemorrhaged millions of dollars in recent years, is looking to sell the team.

Also, consider this:

Assuming DiPietro reports to Bridgeport and plays -- which he must do to collect the salary that, let’s face it, he is rightfully owed -- the team is taking a significant risk considering his laundry list of injuries throughout his career.

Why?

A team cannot buy out an injured player.

Until Snow divulges his plan for the former first overall pick, it’s hard to predict what will happen from here -- and with the Islanders, who knows? -- but whichever way this goes, hopefully it can provide closure for the Islanders and DiPietro, the latter of whom has been relegated to the team’s token punch line.

Maybe both the team and the player can finally move on.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Isles

February, 14, 2013
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At a glance: In a Valentine’s Day rematch with little love between the two New York rivals, the Rangers host the slumping Islanders at Madison Square Garden for the second time in one week. The Blueshirts aim to collect their fourth straight win while the Islanders hope to snap a five-game skid that has them plummeting to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Boyle is back: Rangers forward Brian Boyle is back in the lineup after being scratched the past three games. The 6-foot-7 center, whose struggles earned him a benching by coach John Tortorella, said he’s excited to play and prove he can still contribute: “I know I can play better and I’m going to.” To make room for him on the roster, winger Chris Kreider will be a healthy scratch.

Familiar face: Rangers backup netminder Martin Biron will get the start against his former team Thursday. Biron is 21-4-1 in 28 career games played against the Islanders.

Tavares taking the lead: Leading the way for the Islanders is star center John Tavares. The former first overall pick in the 2009 draft enters Thursday’s game on a three-game goal-scoring streak. The 22-year-old also has seven goals in the last eight games and ranks second among NHL forwards with an average 22:05 of ice time, only behind New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk.

Rookie sensation: Rangers prospect J.T. Miller hopes to replicate the success he had the last time he faced the Islanders at Madison Square Garden. The 19-year-old tallied twice in his Garden debut, only his second NHL game, and has a lot riding on Thursday’s contest. The rivalry match against the Islanders will be Miller’s fifth NHL game, after which the Rangers must decide whether to keep him around or send him back to their AHL affiliate in Connecticut. Miller playing in his 6th game would trigger the first year of his entry-level contract.

Goaltending woes: Too bad the Islanders’ trade for Tim Thomas was nothing more than a salary cap transaction. Honestly, they could use the former Vezina Trophy winner between the pipes. Neither starter Evgeni Nabokov (4-5-1, .897, 3.00) or backup Rick DiPietro (0-2-0, .842, 4.60) have save percentages above .900 and the Islanders currently rank 29th in the league with goals against per game (3.58).

Special teams: One of the bright spots of the season for the Islanders has been the success of their special teams. They rank third in the league on the penalty-kill (89.5%) and sixth in the league on the power-play (25.5%)

What's wrong with the Isles?

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
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With a 6-4 loss to Carolina Monday night, the Islanders are amidst a five-game losing streak that has them tumbling to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Despite early signs that the team could be turning a corner and poised for its first playoff appearance in six years, the Islanders will have to make up some ground before they re-enter the conversation.

With a 4-7-1 record and nine points, the Isles rank 14th in the Eastern Conference, just two points ahead of the woeful Washington Capitals, and last in the Atlantic Division.

What or who to blame?

The team is 29th in the league in goals against per game, with a whopping 3.58 surrendered, and one needs to look no further than the club's goaltending tandem as to why.

Neither starter Evgeni Nabokov (4-5-1, 3.00, .897) or backup Rick DiPietro (0-2-0, 4.60, .842) have save percentages above .900 and the latter gave up three third-period goals in the team's most recent loss.

Too bad the trade for Tim Thomas wasn't more than a salary-cap transaction. It's not just his $5 million cap hit they could use.

Isles prospects: A team grows in Brooklyn

October, 24, 2012
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The puck-lovers of Brooklyn received some happy news today, as the New York Islanders announced they will relocate from their home in Nassau County to the brand-new Barclays Center in time to start the 2015-16 season. Even better news for Brooklynites? The Islanders team that takes the ice that season could be pretty darn good.

The long-suffering fans on Long Island are all too familiar with the franchise’s hit-and-miss (mostly miss) team-building efforts: A 15-year contract for a goalie -- Rick DiPietro -- who has averaged just 29 games a season since signing it, and enduring payments to Alexei Yashin (currently in the KHL) serve as the likeliest lowlights. But a plethora of seasons spent at the bottom of the NHL standings have yielded a few strong draft crops that should start to blossom about the time the Isles hit Brooklyn -- if not sooner. Depending on how prospects progress, the lineup in 2015-16 could be downright formidable.

Yes, the eternally-inked DiPietro will still be under contract when the relocation rolls around -- and for six seasons afterward -- but if you’re banking on significant contributions from the oft-injured netminder, well, there’s a nearby bridge for sale. Still, the Islanders have five skaters already under contract for the 2015-16 season, headlined by franchise center John Tavares who will have just turned 25. Pending future transactions, he’ll be joined by former 34-goal scorer and Calder Trophy finalist Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. Promising young defensemen Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald should also remain under Isles control when the moving vans come to the Coliseum. Ditto for former top-five pick Nino Niederreiter, who still has the potential to put a (highly) forgettable 2011-12 campaign behind him (1 goal in 55 games).

But the best may be yet to come.

ESPN Insider’s Grant Sonier, a former NHL scout with over 13 years of talent evaluation under his belt, recently sized up his top 20 prospects outside of the NHL (Insider) and the Isles placed a pair in the top 10.

Here’s a taste of his analysis:

No. 7 -- D Griffin Reinhart
“The old saying that "you can't teach size" is true … and when "size" like Reinhart's 6-foot-4 frame can skate and see the ice the way this Canadian-born D-man can, there is much to be excited about on Long Island. Reinhart might have as much upside as any prospect on this list, but I feel he will take a little more time to get grounded in the NHL.”

Well, time is something the good people of Brooklyn have on their side. By the 2015-16 season, Reinhart will be of legal drinking age and, potentially, ready to join Hamonic, MacDonald and perhaps Calvin de Haan (recovery from injury pending) in the Top-4 for the Isles’ blue line.

No. 9 -- C Ryan Strome
“At the recent Canada-Russia exhibition, paying tribute to the 1972 Summit Series, Strome shined when the cards were on the table. He is not exempt from having to consistently work hard, but when he does, the results are clear. He's a smart puck-moving centerman, but patience will be important as he might need extra time to develop physically. I believe he will be better with better players.”

The Isles nabbed Strome at the 2011 draft. A day before the pick, TSN analyst and former GM Craig Button raved to me about Strome’s upside, particularly his hockey sense. If he plays to his potential -- and injuries muted his 2011-12 season in the OHL a bit -- Strome and Tavares could form a very potent 1-2 punch down the middle of the ice by 2015-16.

And those are just the team’s top two prospects. Others -- like Brock Nelson, Kirills Kabanov and Petrov, and D-men Ville Pokka and Scott Mayfield -- help give the Islanders the No. 2-rated prospect pipeline according to Hockey Prospectus.

Looking at the potential roster the Isles should boast to start the 2015-16 season, it sure seems as though all of the team’s long-term building may finally bear fruit in Brooklyn.

Rapid Reaction: Bruins 2, Rangers 1

April, 1, 2012
4/01/12
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What it means: The Rangers failed to clinch an Eastern Conference title as the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins denied New York of a series sweep with a 2-1 win at Madison Square Garden. The Bruins notched a pair of goals in the second period to top the Rangers in the fourth and final meeting of the two teams this season and secure the Northeast Division title, while giving fans on Broadway a preview of what could be an enticing Eastern Conference finals match-up down the road.

Gaborik hits 40: Beating Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas early in the first, Marian Gaborik tallied his 40th goal of the season to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 4:33. Jordan Caron incidentally blocked teammate Zdeno Chara’s thundering slapshot, and the puck squirted out to Gaborik for the breakaway. The 30-year-old sniper reached the 40-goal plateau for the second time with the Rangers, third time of his career. He is two goals shy of his career-high 42 goals, achieved twice -- in 2009-10 with New York and two seasons prior with the Minnesota Wild.

All tied up: Chara had a hand in the Bruins’ first goal as well, setting up fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg with a slapshot from the blue-line to tie the game four minutes into the second period.

Oops: A rare Dan Girardi turnover allowed the Bruins to take a 2-1 lead in the second period, as Seguin pounced on the giveaway and found Patrice Bergeron to tuck it away for a power-play goal at 11:52 of the second.

Setting the stage: The Rangers scoff at any mention of the standings and claim to be oblivious to any game but their own, but there was a Sunday matinee that may have garnered some interest. The Pittsburgh Penguins fell 6-4 to the Philadelphia Flyers in a nasty divisional game that whittled the Rangers’ magic number to one. With the two point sacrificed by the Pens, New York entered Sunday’s match needing only one point to clinch the Eastern Conference title. The game was a good preview of what will likely be the 4-5 match-up in the East; the game ended with a melee that extended to both team’s coaching staffs as well. Philadelphia’s Peter Laviolette and Pittsburgh assistant Tony Granato were ejected from the game after screaming at each other from the bench.

Up Next: Rangers at Flyers, Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Trade Deadline Day 2012

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
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The closest thing to a hockey holiday has arrived, folks.

The NHL's annual trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. and I'll be reporting live from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT all day. Make sure to follow the ESPN Hockey crew's live chat (starting at 9 a.m.) for all the buzz throughout the day.

NHL TRADE DEADLINE LIVE CHAT

Local storylines to watch:

-- As ESPNNewYork.com reported Sunday, the Rangers appear to be out on the Rick Nash sweepstakes. Barring a drastic change, a deal to bring the Blue Jackets captain to New York appears unlikely.

--Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is garnering plenty of interest, but GM Garth Snow told ESPNNewYork.com Sunday the he is "not looking" to move him. Talks between Nabokov's camp regarding a contract extension are expected to continue MOnday.

-- Are the Devils done? GM Lou Lamoriello got a head start on Monday's deadline, trading for veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky Friday. Zidlicky made his debut in the Devils 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay Sunday; could there be any new additions in Monday's lineup when the Rangers host the Devils at Madison Square Garden?

Devils @ Rangers at 6 p.m. ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo will be there for all the game-day action...

Also, you can follow each transaction with ESPN NHL's Trade Tracker here.

Isles "not looking" to move Nabokov

February, 26, 2012
2/26/12
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With teams looking to add goaltending depth, Islanders netminder Evgeni Nabokov has generated some interest as Monday's deadline looms, but he does not appear to be on the block.

"I'm not looking to move him," GM Garth Snow told ESPNNewYork.com via text message Sunday.

As reported earlier this week, Nabokov and the Islanders are in the midst of contract negotiations to re-sign the 36-year-old, who claimed the Islanders' starting job after a rocky road to Long Island that began last January.

Nabokov famously spurned the Islanders when the beleaguered team claimed him off re-entry waivers. The former Vezina Trophy finalist refused to report -- he had originally signed a one-year deal with Detroit before the Islanders snatched him -- and was subsequently suspended.

Snow tolled Nabokov's contract, retaining his rights for the 2011-12 season, and the long-time San Jose Shark changed his tune in training camp this September.

Nabokov, who is playing on a one-year $570,000 deal, is 15-14-0 this season with a .925 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average.

Three Questions: All-Star Break

January, 24, 2012
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Barring a miraculous run in the remaining 34 games of the season, the Islanders appear headed for yet another season without playoff hockey. Save for John Tavares’ electric play and another standout year for Matt Moulson, the struggling team looks bound for another Top-5 draft pick. Below are three vital questions for the Isles to answer after the All-Star break.

1. Can they make things interesting?

Following a dreadful first half last season, the Islanders flourished in absence of pressure and picked up their play after the break. Although they still finished 27th in the league, the team was not mathematically eliminated until the last week of the season. Can they show the same fight this year?

2. Will Evgeni Nabokov be traded?

Despite his contentious waiver claim last season, Evgeni Nabokov has moved on to emerge as the Islanders starting goaltender of 2012. The 36-year-old netminder has won four of his last five starts and was named the NHL’s 3rd star last week. Will the Islanders dangle him as trade bait as the deadline nears? Or will they ride him out for the remainder of the season with Al Montoya backing him up?

3. Can Tavares keep this up?

En route to his first All-Star nod, Tavares has put together a stellar 20-goal, 49 point campaign through 48 games. The 21-year-old center, whose league-best 12-game point streak was snapped Monday is on pace for a 33-goal, 51-assist season in his third year pro. Tavares has flourished as the team’s top talent and one of the league’s rising young stars – can he continue to carry the Islanders offense the rest of the season?

DiPietro likely done for season

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
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Every day must feel like Friday the 13th for Rick DiPietro.

The 30-year-old goaltender appears headed for yet another injury-shortened season. After spending the past month on injured reserve, DiPietro will undergo sports hernia surgery next week to repair a lingering groin injury, a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.

DiPietro, whose albatross 15-year $67.5 million deal has him singed through 2021, told Newsday's Arthur Staple he has no plans to retire.

Poulin named AHL Player of the Week

January, 9, 2012
1/09/12
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Islanders goaltending prospect Kevin Poulin has been named the American Hockey League's Player of the Week.

Poulin was 4-0-0 with three straight shutouts during the seven-day period that ended January 8, 2012. He stopped 98 of 100 shots during that span to post a remarkable 0.48 goals against average and .980 save percentage.

The 21-year-old lost six of his seven previous starts heading into the banner week. He has since improved to 11-12-0 in 23 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this season.

Poulin, whose shutout streak ended at 221 minutes, 54 seconds, came within 27:57 minutes of matching the AHL's all-time record set by Johnny Bower with the Cleveland Barons in 1957.

Although Poulin is regarded as the organization's top player in the goaltending pipeline, he has made only one start for the Islanders this season. Fellow Sound Tigers netminder Anders Nilsson has made two starts with the big club, which has rotated among an injury-ravaged squad of Evgeni Nabokov, Rick DiPietro and Al Montoya.

Mottau placed on IR with a concussion

January, 6, 2012
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Defenseman Mike Mottau is the latest Islanders to be placed on injured reserve with a concussion.

The 33-year-old veteran reportedly suffered the injury during practice; he has been a healthy scratch since last playing December 29 in team's 3-1 win over Calgary.

Mottau joins the ranks of Brian Rolston, Nino Niederreiter, Rick DiPietro, Al Montoya and David Ullstrom -- all of whom have spent time on IR with concussions.

Bridgeport defenseman Dylan Reese has been recalled on an emergency basis.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Islanders 0

December, 26, 2011
12/26/11
9:25
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What it means: Speedy rookie Carl Hagelin tallied twice and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist posted his third shutout of the season as the Rangers rattled off their fifth straight win and reclaimed first place in the Eastern Conference. With their 3-0 win over the Islanders on Monday at MSG, the Blueshirts topped their New York rivals for the second time in four days. After handing the Islanders their third straight loss, the Rangers hold a 3-1 edge on the season series.

Sweet setup: Hagelin banked a shot off Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second, but it was Michael Del Zotto who did most of the work. The 21-year-old defenseman made a beautiful move around Islanders center Frans Nielsen to set up Hagelin’s fifth of the season. Del Zotto picked up another helper on Hagelin's third-period marker, tying him with Derek Stepan for the team lead with 17 assists. Del Zotto also leads Rangers defensemen in scoring.

Strong second for Hank: The Islanders didn't record their first shot on goal in the second period until 10:17 into the frame, but Lundqvist was terrific in stopping a barrage of shots during the latter half of the period. Lundqvist received help in front from teammates Brian Boyle and defenseman Anton Stralman, whose last shift of the period culminated with three blocked shots between the two limping players.

Goal streak for Gaborik: With his empty-netter late in the third period, Marian Gaborik extended his goal streak to five games. The 29-year-old sniper, who matched his goals total from last season, leads the league with 22 in 34 games and seven during the team's current five-game winning streak.

Islanders instigating: Fourth-line bruiser Micheal Haley was slapped with 17 penalty minutes after initiating a fight against Rangers defenseman Stu Bickel. Haley received two minutes for instigating, five for fighting and a ten-minute misconduct at 2:20 in the first. The feisty winger did not return to the game as a result of a hand injury suffered in the scrap.

Knocking knees: The Islanders jumped to John Tavares' defense immediately once the 21-year-old center was taken out in an open-ice collision with Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. Girardi went off for tripping, while Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and Tavares’ linemate PA Parenteau both received roughing minors. Tavares returned for his next shift on the Islanders’ first power-play unit.

Still scratched: Rangers’ extra forwards Sean Avery and Erik Christensen were scratched for their eighth and fourth straight game, respectively. Rangers defenseman Jeff Woywitka sat out his fourth consecutive with a foot injury.

Up next: Rangers at Capitals, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Rolston leaves game with concussion

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
10:54
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And the league's most frightening problem just seems to get worse by the day.

This time it was Islanders' veteran forward Brian Rolston who left the game during the first period of the Islanders' 3-2 loss to Dallas with a concussion.

Rolston, who has three goals and four assists, is the fourth Islander this season to miss time with a concussion. Rick DiPietro missed the first three weeks of the season with the head injury, rookie forward Nino Niedereiter hasn't played since suffering one from Mark Fistric's suspension-worthy hit Dec. 3, and Steve Staios is also believed to be out with a concussion.

Rolston's injury happened shortly after the Philadelphia Flyers announced captain Chris Pronger will miss the rest of the season with severe post-concussion syndrome. Philadelphia's Claude Giroux is also out with a concussion, as are Rangers defensemen Marc Staal and Mike Sauer, Carolina's Jeff Skinner and Joni Pitkanen, Pittsburgh's Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek and Ottawa's Milan Michalek. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby is also sidelined with concussion-like symptoms less than a month removed from his triumphant return from a 10-month absence from the game.

DiPietro placed on IR

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
9:38
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No surprise here.

The Islanders have place goaltender Rick DiPietro on injured reserve with a left groin strain, retroactive to December 3.

The oft-injured netminder suffered the injury in the Islanders' 5-4 win over Dallas December 3 and has not played since.

The 30-year-old, who has been hampered with a variety of ailments again this season, is 3-2-3, with an .876 save percentage and 3.73 goals against average.

Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov will tend the net for the Islanders, who have carried three goaltenders all season.

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