Ten years after being selected first overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, goaltender Rick DiPietro attended the event in a different capacity, accompanying the Islanders at their table while they welcomed their newest draft pick, Swiss winger Nino Niederreiter.
In the decade since the day he was first introduced as an Islander, DiPietro has experienced some turbulent times and battled a frustrating string of hip and knee injuries. And although he finds himself once again trying to get back into shape after a season-ending injury, DiPietro is still trying to be positive about this upcoming season.
“Let’s be honest, it’s been a tough couple of years,” he said during the first round at Staples Center Friday. “ I’m hoping it’s one of those deals where all those things were just lumped in during a short span of time and now I can just be through with it.”
Over the past two seasons, DiPietro has been limited to 13 games because of injuries and although he made his long-anticipated comeback in January against the Dallas Stars, he went back on injured reserve in March due to tightness in his knee.
DiPietro said he will likely start skating in August and will then hopefully return healthy to play a significant role on the team this year.
“I just want to stay healthy, make the playoffs, and be a contributing member of the team again. “I just want to get where I need to be to be successful again. I’m excited and looking forward to it.”
DiPietro said he couldn’t believe it has been ten years since he embarked on his NHL career, at the Draft and that attending the event just added to his anticipation of playing again.
“It’s a great feeling to be here. It makes me want to put the goalie pads on right now. It’s an exciting time.”