If you followed the New York Islanders this summer, one thing you would have noticed would be the number of goaltenders brought into the organization. With the loss of fringe NHL goaltenders Joey MacDonald and Yann Danis to free agency, the lack of goaltending prospects, last year's goaltending debacle, and the uncertainty of franchise goaltender Rick DiPietro's future, Garth Snow, a former goalie himself, vowed to not let the goaltending position become a weak point or downfall anymore. Some say he took it to the extreme, drafting 2 goalies in the first 3 rounds, signing two veteran respectable starting netminders in Free Agency, signing one of the best AHL goalies, as well as resigning another solid AHL keeper. The depth chart, with names like DiPietro, Roloson, Biron, Koskinen, Nilsson, Ridderwall, Poulin, Munroe, and Lawson, is a solid upgrade from year's past.
With Rick DiPietro about two weeks from returning, we will now take a look at the Islander's NHL goaltending depth, the situation, scenarios, as well as what I believe will play out.
Right now, the Isles are pretty much alternating Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron. Roloson has had a lot of success, getting points in all but 2 games. Biron, on the other hand, has struggled, with just 2 wins. The ironic part of this all is that the two goaltenders had near identical stats prior to the New Jersey game in which Biron played well but wasn't lucky.
Martin Biron is in the first and final year of his contract. He is slated to earn 1.4 million this year. Roloson is in the first of 2 years, and his annual salary is 2.5 million per year. Rick DiPietro is in year 3 of a 15 year contract. He has an annual cap hit of 4.5 million.
Both Biron and Roloson have had playoff success. Biron has backstopped Philly for the last two years, and has stolen a few games. Roloson took the 8 seed Edmonton Oilers all the way to game 7 of the finals in 2006. Rick DiPietro, in limited playoff appearances, has 2 wins in 9 games. He has 1 shutout, but has not been the reason his team lost. In fact, he was the Isles best player in both series against Tampa in 04 and Buffalo in 07.
So we obviously know Rick DiPietro will not get traded. With his injury history, and his contract, he is not movable. Nobody will take that contract. For the Isles, they would rather stick with Rick. If he returns to form, he is a top NHL goaltender, and the return they would get in a trade would not be of benefit to them.
Dwayne Roloson is a slight possibility to be moved. The second year on his contract hurts him. He has had playoff success however, is a great guy in the locker room, can either start, or back-up a goalie, and has experience. So it would not surprise me to hear that Dwayne was requested in trades. However...
I expect the goaltender to be moved when Rick comes back to be Martin Biron. His contract is the most favorable to be moved, at a low price tag and only one year. He is also a great team guy and has one of the best personalities in the NHL. Rumors swirling stated that Biron was guaranteed by the Isles that when DiPietro returns, the Isles will promptly trade Biron to a cup contender. I would not be surprised to see Biron a Wing, Blackhawk, Capital, or Thrasher. These teams need a goalie to send them over the hump.
Garth Snow has put the Isles in a great position. Goaltending has been a key reason for the team's success early in the season, and now, with one of the top netminders in the league set to be returning, he will better his team even more by acquiring an asset, be it a pick, prospect, or player, for a goalie. Snow really did do his job this summer in shoring up the goalie position.