What if? The Islanders and Rick DiPietro

Now that the Maple Leafs are enjoying a little success (I hope this doesn't jinx anything), I believe it is time to make fun of other, less fortunate teams. When it comes to identifying a target, there are a couple teams that could easily be described as low hanging fruit, but today's news about the Islanders putting Rick DiPietro on waivers is just too good to pass up. Never mind the fact that they play in a terrible arena (for now), they have a terrible and quite possibly certifiably insane owner and a quickly dwindling fan base. Rick DiPietro is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to piling on the Islanders.

Here are a couple of things about Rick DiPietro that you probably already know, but hell...they make me giggle.

  • Rick has played 50 games since 2008-09.
  • According to the "leader board" section in hishockey reference page, DiPietro was an All-Star exactly once (2008), and this appears to be his most impressive NHL accomplishment (unless you count "placing in the top-ten (twice!) in any of the following categories: the most ties in a season, losses in a season, goals against, shots against, saves). Then again, I seem to recall that he hurt himself during the skills competition, so maybe having one All-Star appearance was a curse, not a blessing.
  • Although he may not appear on the NHL leader boards for anything very prestigious, he does hold the record for number of days on the "most popular players" search list on CapGeek.
  • Speaking ofRick DiPietro's CapGeek page, did you know he once signed a 15 year, $67.5 million contract!?!?!?!? You did? OK then. By the way, that was one hell of a bridge contract, wouldn't you say?
  • Speaking of popular CapGeek pages, check out DiPietro's buyout calculator page. If he is bought out this summer, the Islanders will have a cap hit of $1.5 million until....2028-29. Hahahahaa!!! Put it another way, players that will be drafted in 2028-29 are currently 2 or 3 years old.
  • The Islanders had to trade away some chump named "Roberto Luongo" to make room for the emerging superstar #1 overall pick. Mike Milbury, you are a beautiful man...don't ever change.

This may stray a little to the Maple Leaf focus of this site, but I like to think of good "what if" moments and see how history would be different if a butterfly did or didn't flap his wings at a particular moment. So, how would things be different if Mike Milbury did not draft DiPietro #1 overall in 2000?

1) With the first overall pick in the 2000 draft, the New York Islanders are proud to take...from the University of Wisconsin...Dany Heatley. So what would this mean?

  • The Thrashers had the #2 pick and were rocking with Norm Maracle, Milan Hnilicka and Damian Rhodes. Is it fair to assume they would have taken DiPietro? Could he be gracing the Jets IR as we speak?
  • Speaking of the Jets, do the Thrashers move a year or two sooner because they suck so bad with the fragile DiPietro? If so, are they playing in Hamilton instead of Winnipeg? That city was more the flavour of the month at that time when it came to relocation. On the other hand, the Thrashers were forced into trading Heatley for fifty cents on the dollar, so maybe the franchise would have been better off...but likely still not located in Atlanta.
  • Speaking of that trade he forced, Dany Heatley would have never become an Ottawa Senator, denying Leaf fans the joy of hating him.
  • More importantly, speaking of the reasons for that trade...Dan Snyder would still be alive if Heatley is drafted by the Islanders. Plus, what Islander player gets into Heatley's Ferrari after a few cocktails?
  • Let's assume Dany Heatley eventually forces the Islanders hand by demanding a trade, you know, instead of the way he did that with the Thrashers and the Senators. How many franchises could this bizzarro world Dany Heatley wreck?
  • Would the Thrashers have drafted Marian Gaborik (taken third by the Wild) instead of Heatley? The Gaborik/Kovalchuk combo would have been fun to watch.
  • Is it possible that DiPietro falls to #5...owned by the NYI? Probably not, but interesting to think about. Could Milbury have packages this pick with something to move up and grab him?

2) New York Islanders roster without DiPietro.

  • The Islanders don't trade Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. So the Panthers suck more and the Islanders suck less.
  • The following year, the Islanders trade with Ottawa for Alexi Yashin, sending Bill Muckalt, Zdeno Chara and the #2 pick (Jason Spezza). Do the Islanders make the trade for Yashin if they have Heatley on the roster instead of DiPietro? Is it possible the Heatley, Spezza, Chara combo play in Long Island instead of Ottawa? Would it still be fun to hate them if they weren't Sens? I say yes.
  • The Islanders could have had Heatley, Spezza, Jokinen up front and Chara and Luongo in the back? They also had Peca, Mariusz Czerkawski when he was still scoring, Roman Hamrlik, Adrian Aucoin and Kenny Jonsson on defence....not a bad little nucleus moving forward.

3) Roberto Luongo's career arc

  • Would Luongo have thrived in New York in the same way he did with Florida and Vancouver? The Islanders have a history of ruining goalies, so.... Would we have enjoyed the same comedy routine of Islander goalie pickups over the years? Does Nabokov win the cup playing for the Red Wings in 2011 (with no waiver claim made by the Islanders, and Luongo not playing in Vancouver?)
  • What would the Florida Panthers have been like without Luongo? They clearly gained a couple blue chip assets (Luongo/Jokinen) thanks to Mike Milbury. When Luongo went to Vancouver, he fetched Bertuzzi, Alex Auld, and Bryan Allen. Hardly a windfall, but Luongo was demanding a contract Florida was not willing to give. Jokinen would eventually be traded for a pick, Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton. OK, so Florida didn't exactly maximize those blue chips after all anyway.
  • Luongo, along with the Sedins et al, pushed the Canucks into elite status. Before he showed up, the Canucks were using Auld and Dan Cloutier. Stellar.
  • Would Cory Schneider have taken the reigns of this team much sooner, propelling himself into an elite level of goaltenders that he appeared to be in last year's cup run? Or would he be closer to the league average, as he is playing now. One thing is for sure, we wouldn't have been hearing about Luongo to the Leafs rumours this year.

4) Rick DiPietro's career arc

  • Does Rick DiPietro get hurt as much playing for the Atlanta Thrashers, or whoever ends up drafting him? It is reasonable to assume yes.
  • One thing is for sure, DiPietro never signs a 15 year, $67.5 million contract. Does this honour get passed on to Luongo?
  • Would we even know who Rick DiPietro is? Would he even be kicking around the NHL on another team with the injury history, mediocre stats and more importantly, no compromising photos of the team owner? I am making an assumption that these photos of Charles Wang exist of course, but how else did he get that big contract?
  • Conversely, if he was on a better team, does DiPietro thrive? What if the expansion Minnesota Wild drafted him third? What would DiPietro have been like playing for the trapping Jacques Lemaire?

I am sure you can think of hundreds of other possibilities here since the ripples are potentially endless. Please point them out in the comment section; I am sure I am missing some really obvious ones (and potentially some that impact the Leafs more). The drafting of DiPietro is definitely a great "what if" moment though. is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of