UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 16: Rick DiPietro #39 of the New York Islanders skates in warm ups prior to his first home game of the season against the Buffalo Sabres at the Nassau Coliseum on January 16, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Oft-injured goalie Rick DiPietro has been placed on waivers by the New York Islanders and will likely be headed to the minors once he clears, as expected.
The Islanders announced the move Friday, one day after they defeated the Canadiens in Montreal. New York will next play at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday before returning home to face Carolina on Sunday.
The 31-year-old DiPietro has played in only three games this season while serving as the backup to Evgeni Nabokov. He is 0-3 with a 4.09 goals-against average in his appearances.
Because of the 15-year, $67.5 million contract DiPietro signed with the Islanders before the 2006-07 season, the goalie is all but certain to clear waivers. When he does, it is believed he will then be sent down by the Islanders to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League.
There are still eight years at $4.5 million per season remaining on DiPietro’s landmark deal – one that now exceeds the term limits permitted in the collective bargaining agreement the NHL made with the players’ association to end this season’s lockout.
DiPietro would earn his NHL salary while in the minor leagues and still count against the Islanders’ salary cap. New York needs that cap hit along with the $5 million charge it is carrying for suspended goalie Tim Thomas.
The veteran Thomas, who has said he isn’t playing this season, was acquired by the Islanders from the Boston Bruins on Feb. 7 for the sole purpose of keeping New York slightly above the required minimum payroll of $44 million. However, Thomas is not being paid while he is sitting out, but still counts against the cap.
The 38-year-old Thomas chose to take this season off following the NHL lockout and was suspended by the Bruins after he didn’t report to training camp last month. He is in the final season of a four-year deal.
DiPietro, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 NHL draft, earned 32 wins in the first year of his megadeal and 26 the following season. But since then, he has been limited to just 50 NHL games and 14 wins because of various injuries that have plagued him.