Rick DiPietro, a longtime NHL goalie who has struggled with injuries for the last several years, is joining the Charlotte Checkers.
According to the New York Post and since confirmed by the Raleigh News and Observer, DiPietro, 32, signed a professional tryout contract with Charlotte and was scheduled to join the team following today's game in Rockford.
"It's a safety net and could give us more depth," Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford, who helped facilitate the signing, told the News and Observer. "At this point it's a PTO. We'll see what kind of shape he's in, how he plays."
A veteran of 11 NHL seasons dating back to 2000, DiPietro joins center Manny Malhotra as well-known NHL players to sign with the Checkers in recent weeks.
It is not yet clear how DiPietro will fit in to the Checkers’ goaltending picture, although recent injuries to Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin in Carolina have certainly resulted in a situation where any additional depth is welcome. Heading into this weekend, the Checkers were carrying two goaltenders who they had signed to tryout contracts from the ECHL level earlier in the week – John Muse and Allen York.
In 318 career NHL games, all with the New York Islanders, DiPietro posted a 130-136-36 record with 16 shutouts, a 2.87 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. However, a multitude of injuries, including concussions and hip, knee and groin surgeries, limited him to just 50 NHL games over the last five seasons. In four of those five seasons, he played eight or fewer games.
That injury history, along with his contract – a whopping 15-year-deal signed in 2006 – led the Islanders to buy out the eight remaining seasons in July. Prior to that, the organization had sent him to AHL Bridgeport, where he appeared in 18 games last season.
The first overall draft pick by the Islanders in 2000, DiPietro (6-foot-0, 185 pounds) has represented the United States at the 2006 Winter Olympics, the 2005 IIHF World Championship, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and two World Junior tournaments in 2000 and 2001. The native of Winthrop, MA, also played in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game.
In 117 career AHL games, DiPietro is 56-45-15 with a 2.37 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and eight shutouts.