Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wang Doesn't Have A Clue

Fresh off his last debacle when GM Neil Smith was dumped in a month and a half and replaced as GM by the backup goalie, New York Islanders owner Charles Wang is running full speed into his next big mistake.

He is signing goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15 year contract worth $87.5 million in total. DiPietro turns 25 next week and will be almost 40 when the contract expires.

Signing up a superstar longterm is a good thing to do, but you better be certain the player in questio is a superstar. Rick DiPietro isn't. A superstar is on a hall of fame trach. Rick DiPietro isn't. A superstar is ranked as one of the top players in the game. Rick DiPietro isn't. Could anyone make a believable case that Rick DiPietro is the best goalie in hockey? No.

Maybe he was the most valuable Islander last year (that is debateable but it is not too farfetched) but there was a reason the Islanders finished in 12th place in the east. They lacked any truly great players. Instead of acquiring them, they are hampering themselves with longterm deals for players who may be the best they have, but are not truly superstars. Wouldn't you think Alexei Yashin's 10 year contract that was initially worth $87.5 million before salary rollbacks have taught them something?

Do you want a thirty-something Rick DiPietro on your payroll for a $4.5 million salary cap hit? Not unless he blossoms into an elite goalie. By that point, he will be on the downside of his career and may not be worthy of a roll as an NHL starter.

This contract does become a great bargain is DiPietro becomes a Hall of Fame goalie, but we do not see any signs that is likely to happen.

Charles Wang is running the Islanders into the ground. Did he run all his businesses like that? If so how did he ever gather enough money to purchase the Islanders in the first place? He is trying to play fantasy GM to the team he owns. He pushes his other hockey men aside ot negotiate this important contract. This is despite the fact he obviously has very little hockey sense. Maybe he sees DiPietro was the US Olympic team goalie and thinks that means he is a superstar - without realizing there are no truly elite American goalies in the NHL right now. So he goes all out to sign him to a big contract.

Charles Wang is the worst GM in the NHL. Garth Snow probably would be a better GM, but his qualifications are questionable. The Islanders are being run into the ground by a hands on owner who knows very little about hockey yet insists on making the decisions.

Here is TSN's story on DiPietro's signing.

A small quibble with your post, but Miller if his performance remains constant is playing fairly elite level hockey and he's American.
Miller might become that elite American goalie. But he wasn't on the 2006 US Olympic team. He certainly wasn't at that elite level at that point.

Rick DiPietro only got to be the starter of the 2006 US Olympic team because there were no elite level American goalies at the time.

Ryan Miller clearly wasn't considered one or he would have made the team.
This deal doesn't look so bad once you realize that DiPietro's contract may not be tradeable, but it can be waived.

Once in the AHL, DiPietro's salary doesn't hit the cap.

If DiPietro is even better than average, this deal could make Wang look like a genius, sure he's wasting his money, but he effectively evades the cap by extending the extra years on the contract he knows aren't likely to occur at the NHL level.
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