Why the Dipietro Deal Isnít a Complete Loss
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Friday, September 22, 2006

Last week, New York Islanders netminder Rick Dipietro signed the second longest contact in North American professional sports history, committing to a 15-year deal worth $67.5 million dollars that will give the 25-year-old Dipietro the opportunity to finish his career where it started when he was picked first overall by the Isles in the 2000 draft.

Over the summer, the majority of the hockey world has laughed over the Islanders deal and the recent front office problems the team has been having. However, none have thought about how solid the deal actually is for the Islanders.

When many first heard about the deal, they believed that Dipietro wasnít worth signing to a long term deal mainly due to the fact that he hasnít proven himself yet, owning only one playoff win and a regular season record that is below .500 in his young career. However, considering the fact that Dipietro was 3-15 as an 18-year old rookie on a last place Islanders team in 2001 that likely couldnít hold its own with the Hartford Wolfpack, his career has had much more success than most would like to admit. In fact, Dipietro has a record of 53-42 over his past two seasons as the Islanders starting goaltender.

As far as Dipietroís one playoff win is concerned, the Massachusetts-native owns a 2.08 GAA in six career playoff games with a solid .911 save percentage. Itís not Dipietroís fault that the Islanders have had a lack of energy during the playoffs since heís been the number one goalie.

Many analysts and media personnel also feel that the Isles charismatic goaltender isnít a top three goalie and the deal he recently signed is a joke. Looking deeper into the contract, itís easy to see that Dipietro will be making $4.5 million over the next 15 years, a far cry away from the salaries of Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, who will make $6.75 million this season. At press time, Dipietro is the eighth highest-paid goalie in the NHL, which means the Islanders understand that DP has a lot of work to do before he becomes a mainstay in the NHL, but value his potential and his willingness to finish his career on Long Island.

The deal also allows the Islanders to have some flexibility. If Dipietro formally retires before the contract is up, his contact will end and will not count against the cap. Also, paying DP only $4.5 million over the next 15 years will also allow the team to afford a competent backup, just in case heís injured and will give the Isles the opportunity to hunt during the free-agent season and put a better team on the ice.

While many owners laugh about signing players to long term deals that look like prison sentences to the unsuspecting eye, the Islanders realize that goaltenders like Rick Dipietro donít come around everyday. However, anything can happen in 15 years.

Despite the obvious risk both Dipietro and the Islanders are taking, they feel that this deal will work out and bring the tradition of great hockey back to the Island.

Only time will tell.