(Reuters) - The New York Islanders placed goaltender Rick DiPietro on waivers on Friday, paying the price for what might go down as one of the most expensive gaffes in National Hockey League history.
DiPietro, taken with the number one overall selection in the 2000 NHL draft, was meant to be the cornerstone of a rebuilding franchise when he signed a then record 15-year, $67.5 million contract in 2006.
But a string of injuries and play that never came close to living up to the superstar expectations plus his massive salary have DiPietro headed to the minors if he clears waivers as expected and is not claimed by another team.
The 31-year-old American has eight-years and $36 million remaining on his deal.
DiPietro’s impending departure did not generate the same excitement as his arrival did in 13 years ago, the team offering a brief statement on its website “Rick DiPietro placed on waivers”.
Over 11 seasons DiPietro has a career record of 130-136-36 but in the last five seasons has just once won more than three games.
This season he has appeared in three games, losing all three while posting a 4.09 goals against average.
Once rated among the NHL’s top netminders, DiPietro won a career high 32 games during the 2006-07 season, earning All-Star honors in 2008 and a spot on the 2006 U.S. Olympic team.
But injuries derailed his once promising career, knee problems causing him to miss most of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.
Last season he appeared in eight games, sidelined by concussion and groin injuries.
Having lost his starting job to Evgeni Nabokov, DiPietro is the odd man out with the Islanders acquiring former Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas in a trade.
Thomas, who led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011, has taken the year off but is expected to return to the NHL next season.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Gene Cherry