Unfortunately, the steady parade of injuries would begin the following season, leading to his worst and last season as their starting goalie.Looking at that one four-season stretch as their starting goalie from 2003-04 through 2007-08, Di Pietro played in 238 games, sixth most in the NHL.Of those who played at least 150 games during his prime, Di Pietro's .908 save percentage was merely 18th, tied with Marty Turco, Ryan Miller and Chris Osgood, just short of Evgeni Nabokov, Martin Gerber and Vesa Toskala. College system but was drafted in the fifth round and didn't play his first real NHL hockey until age 25.
A first overall selection, on a team that already had a blue-chip prospect, known largely for his tremendous self-confidence (and puck-handling skills).
Foreshadowing what was to come, Di Pietro pulled a groin muscle in his first practice with the team, missing four preseason games.
They need to be brought along slowly, and there's a tremendous amount of risk in those long deals. Like Di Pietro, the Kings star netminder also had a monster season at age 26, backstopped the U. Olympic team, landed a 10-year, $58 million contract and has been hit with back and groin injuries ever since. Quick was brought along more slowly and carefully with far less hype, and he had much more legitimate NHL success before landing his big deal.
The point is more that young goalies can be quite unpredictable, whether they're ultimately hit with injuries or not.
Di Pietro just couldn't stay healthy, also being hit with groin injuries, a hernia and Brent Johnson's fist, which led to an extended absence with a facial injury.
Ironically, his contract did give the Islanders some cap flexibility, as Di Pietro's deal helped the Islanders stay above the league's minimum.
"We think his unusually strong puck handling skills weighed out in his favor" said Milbury on draft day, via
In the same interview, the Islanders GM also mentioned Di Pietro's aggressive style, his leadership and especially his confidence as key factors in their decision to select him first overall.
To answer that, we'll examine how each of these three circumstances developed for Di Pietro.
The Hype In a move that even general manager Mike Milbury called gutsy, the New York Islanders made Rick Di Pietro the first goalie ever to be selected first overall in the NHL entry draft (though Michel Plasse was drafted first overall by Montreal in its predecessor, the NHL amateur draft).
Di Pietro certainly had a lot of confidence, maybe even too much of it.