The biggest news coming out of Long Island this summer was the buyout of goaltender Rick DiPietro, who still had eight years remaining on his now infamous 15-year contract. The former No. 1 pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft has battled injuries for the last handful of seasons, which have limited him to just 50 games since the end of the 2007-08 campaign. The Islanders sent him to the AHL last season after he was not claimed off waivers. While it isn't a shock that DiPietro wasn't in the Islanders' future plans, many were skeptical if the organization would pull the trigger on the pricey buyout.
Islanders GM Garth Snow also opted not to re-sign defenseman and captain Mark Streit, and instead chose to trade his rights to the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the start of the free agency period. Streit spent five years on Long Island — though he missed the entire 2010-11 season due to injury — where he posted 40 goals and 139 assists for 179 points in 286 games.
The future of the Islanders may have taken a hit with the departure of forward Nino Niederreiter, who was traded to the Minnesota Wild. While the No. 5 pick from the 2010 NHL draft hasn’t materialized into the player the organization may have thought — just two goals and an assist in 64 NHL games — the skill and potential are still there, as Niederreiter posted 28 goals and 50 points in 74 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL last season, and could be in need of a fresh start with a new team.
Part of the return for Niederreiter was forward Cal Clutterbuck, a grinder who averages about 14 goals and 25 points per year. The 25-year-old is a former third-round pick (2006) of the Wild, and is coming off a four-goal, 10-point season.
The Islanders also added another former Wild, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, whom they inked to a one-year deal on the opening day of free agency. Bouchard, 29, was taken by the Wild No. 8 overall in 2002, and has spent his entire career in the State of Hockey. Bouchard has never reached his full potential, scoring 20 goals just once in his 10-year career. He posted eight goals and 20 points in 43 games last year.