There has been lots of debate on message boards and blogs on what should be done with Rick DiPietro once he is FULLY recovered. I am here to say that there is no debate. When Ricky is healthy, HE is the number one goaltender of the New York Islanders.
This is in no way a slight to Roloson. He has played outstanding hockey thus far this season. There is no question about that. If there was an All Star game this year, he would probably be their representative. He is tied for 13th in wins, which is pretty impressive considering the goalie duo we had last year, and the continued lack of depth on the blueline. But he could be tied for first in the league in wins and it would not matter.
15 years, $67.5 million
It is that simple. Really. Once Ricky signed that contract, that was it. When healthy, he became the number one goaltender for this franchise for the next 15 years. They made their beds with that deal. Now they need to live with it. You cannot have your $4.5 million per goalie as your back up. Not when there are 12 years left on his deal. This is not the same as the Giguere situation in Anaheim. He does not have 12 years left on his deal. He can be traded. Ricky cannot be traded.
Now the question of WHEN he resumes his job as number one goalie is a good one. And the answer is still not known. He needs to be COMPLETELY healthy before he resumes the workload of a number one goalie in this league. But when he is healthy, the job is his. He does not need to win the job back from Roloson. And do not start feeling bad for Roloson. He was well aware of this when he signed the two year contract this summer. He is a 40 year old goaltender who was offered a two year contract by the Islanders when everyone else was offering him a one year deal. He knew when he signed that deal he was giving up playing time for more job security and money.
All this being said. I do not believe Ricky will ever be the type of goalie that will play 70 to 75 games a year. They will always need a very capable back up. We should feel very fortunate that for the rest of this year and next year, that back up goalie will be Dwayne Roloson.