Alan Hahn praises the Islanders for not rushing goalie Rick DiPietro into a long-term contract.
Hahn’s point is that while DiPietro has tremendous upside, he’s still a work in progress and isn’t necessarily worth a big chunk of limited cap space.
It’s a strong point, but what Hahn forgets is that DiPietro is a person. It might make financial sense for the Islanders to give him year-to-year contracts until he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2009, but in the end, it’s just going to push him away to another team. By committing to him, the Islanders could show DiPietro they consider him an important part of their future, and that can translate into a home-town discount.
Just look at Martin Brodeur. He signed a long-term deal in 2001 to stay in New Jersey for five years. He gave up his unrestricted free agency and took less money than he probably would have gotten on the open market. Obviously, Brodeur in 2001 is not DiPietro in 2005, but the idea remains the same: contracts aren’t just financial investments, but also emotional ones.
The Islanders are managing their cap and driving away a fantastic goalie.
Unless they’re just getting ready to trade him. Then they’re handling this brilliantly.