The New York Islanders have activated goaltender Rick DiPietro from the injured reserve list, although there are conflicting reports as to why the team decided to activate an oft injured player who quite possibly signed the worst contract in the history of the National Hockey League.
This much is certain. DiPietro is not expected to push incumbent netminder Evgeni Nabokov for the starting job next season. At this point, even though DiPietro is signed through the 2020-2021 NHL season (and no, that is not a misprint), nobody expects him to return to the form that initially caused the Islanders to sign him to such a ridiculous deal.
That deal, by the way, was a 15 year deal worth $67.5 million that was signed in 2006.
DiPietro played well the following season, and his numbers were not all that bad during the 2007-2008 season either. But since then, he has played in just 47 games over the past four season, including just 8 last season. His numbers were not that impressive in limited action.
But New York is stuck with him, whether they like it or not. The goalie has a $4.5 million salary cap hit this season, so they would like him to do something to earn at least a portion of that deal, even if it is carrying around Nabokov’s equipment.
The Islanders are telling anyone who will listen that this is purely a hockey move, and that DiPietro has been cleared by doctors. The team says that they expect him to compete this season.
But you just can’t help get the feeling that this move was possibly made with an ulterior motive.
The Islanders activated a player who is not going to mean all that much next season in terms of wins and losses. But if there is a lockout or work stoppage of any sort, the team would not be on the hook to pay DiPietro during that time while he is activated.
But if DiPietro remained on IR when a potential lockout began, the Islanders would be on the hook to pay him everything he signed for six years ago.
You tell me why the team really activated him, especially given the timing on the calendar.