It sounds like Rick DiPietro will make his triumphant (?) return to professional hockey. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, DiPietro has signed a professional tryout contract with the Charlotte Checkers, American Hockey League affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Rick DiPietro, subject of tomorrow's Slapshots, has signed PTO with Carolina AHL affiliate Charlotte, Post has learned.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) October 26, 2013
The signing was later confirmed by Carolina GM Jim Rutherford, via Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.
GM Jim Rutherford confirms Rick DiPietro has signed a PTO with Charlotte Checkers. Will join team tonight.— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) October 26, 2013
DiPietro, who was bought out of his 15-year contract by the New York Islanders this offseason, hadn't been able to find work. Now he might get a second chance thanks to a team in desperation mode.
The oft-injured 32-year-old goaltender made 18 starts in the AHL last season after being demoted by the Islanders. He posted a 2.93 goals-against average and .893 save percentage, hardly encouraging marks for an NHL veteran.
DiPietro will join John Muse and Allen York on Charlotte's goaltending depth chart. He'll also join Manny Malhotra, who is playing with the Checkers in hopes of returning to the NHL, where he has 864 career games under his belt, most recently with the Vancouver Canucks.
DiPietro, who was the Islanders' first-overall selection in 2000, may not have anything left in the tank after years of being hobbled by a lot of bad luck, but a PTO is a low-risk maneuver for Charlotte.
A PTO affords the team at least 25 games of a players' services, though that player can be released from a PTO at any time. So how long DiPietro has to prove himself is uncertain, but he's at least got a foot in the door.
Though DiPietro has become more punch line than player lately, everyone deserves a second chance. Without that 15-year deal hanging over his head, who knows what can happen next? Hey, if it doesn't work out, DiPietro is still getting $1.5 million a year from now until 2029 from the Islanders. He'll be just fine.