The window for NHL contract buyouts opened late last night but the Islanders had yet to make a move on Rick DiPietro, whose eight remaining seasons and $36 million make him a prime candidate to be bought out during this stretch through next Thursday, just before the start of free agency.
Isles general manager Garth Snow declined comment and DiPietro, who hasn't been with the team since he was waived on Feb. 22, did not return a phone message.
DiPietro cleared waivers and reported to AHL Bridgeport, where he finished out this past season. The Islanders, who signed DiPietro to a then-landmark 15-year, $67.5 million deal prior to the 2006-07 season, could use either a regular compliance buyout, meaning they would owe DiPietro $1.5 million per year for the next 16 seasons (and that $1.5 million would stay on the Isles' salary cap for each of those 16 seasons), or an amnesty buyout, meaning the Isles would pay DiPietro the same $24 million over the next 16 seasons but have no cap charge.
As the draft approaches on Sunday and free agency on July 5, the Isles goaltending situation is unsettled. Evgeni Nabokov, who started 41 of 48 games last season and all six playoff games, appears headed to the open market, despite the two sides being relatively close to agreement on a one-year deal.
"I told my agent, my first choice would be the Islanders, let's try to get something done," Nabokov told Newsday yesterday. "We couldn't find the middle ground as of now, but I never close the door to anything.."
The Islanders held talks with the Kings about goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who was dealt to the Leafs on Sunday. Veteran goaltenders Mike Smith, Ray Emery and Dan Ellis will hit the market on July 5.