BREAKING NEWS: Islanders sign Martin BironDiPROJECTION: Goalie will return strong, but slowly

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UPDATED at 5:40 pm - Well now we know for sure Rick DiPietro isn’t starting the season in the NHL, as we document below. Maybe he’ll be out even longer than we projected.

 

Larry Brooks of the Post exclusively broke the news that the Islanders have signed Martin Biron to a one year, $1.4 million dollar contract. The team has just sent out its official press release.

 

A few thoughts. Hopefully for DiPietro he’s on some island without access on his honeymoon. How’d you like to be Scott Munroe. “Hey Scott, I know you thought you had a chance of starting the year in the NHL, but you remember your Philly teammate Marty”?

 

At such a good value, Biron is very tradeable for a pick before the deadline if Dwayne Roloson plays well – even if DiPietro doesn’t have a perfect return from rehab. And how about this – Logan goes on vacation, Larry gets the scoop on an Islanders story. Amazing coincidence!

 

I joked in my DiPietro piece earlier today how Garth Snow has proven with Streit and Roloson that he’s good at signing UFAs and should do it more often. In the release, Snow says he now has “three bonafide number one goalies.” We’ll see about that. Now on to adding some size, toughness and skill.

 

Reality check: signing Martin Biron today is a good move, but this doesn’t make the 2009-10 Islanders any better. They already had Roloson. What this means is they are insured if DiPietro or Roloson can’t play, and maybe they’ll get yet another second-rounder for an extra goalie before the deadline. A good signing, not a breakthrough for the rebuilding program.

 

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11:30 am - Dwayne Roloson will play at least 40 regular season games for the Islanders this season. Rick DiPietro will play no more than 40 regular season games for the Islanders this season, and maybe a lot less. That’s because I believe Roloson will start most, if not all of the Islanders’ first 20 games of the jam-packed regular season schedule between Oct. 3 and Nov. 14.

 

That’s, of course, if the Point Blank DiProjection turns out to be accurate.

 

As August approaches – you know, the month Rick DiPietro is to begin skating on his own – it’s time to predict what will become of the team’s franchise goaltender. The team has said nothing for months and I do not expect they will between now and the start of camp, so my projections are based on conversations with people close to the team and to DiPietro.

 

Consider this my injured goalie version of John Tavares-Victor Hedman-Matt Duchene, except this will be our one and only segment.

 

  • DiPietro will not begin skating in early August. In fact, he may not even begin light skating on his own until late August at the earliest.

 

  • As the team has said, he absolutely will be with the team for training camp in Saskatoon. Note that the Islanders never said anything about him being a regular participant. I don’t expect DiPietro to take part in any Saskatchewan scrimmages or pre-season games. You’ll more likely read about him in Newsday working one-on-one with his goalie coaches.

 

To summarize, my projection is that the original Islanders timeline, which the club set with him resuming skating in August, will likely be pushed back at least one month.

 

This is no longer Rick DiPietro’s team, and that’s good for everybody – especially Rick DiPietro.

 

His delayed-again comeback would be far from a crisis for several reasons. In Dwayne Roloson, the Islanders signed a legit No. 1 goaltender – one of the best value UFA signings of the month. (With Roloson and Mark Streit, Garth Snow’s so good at the free agent thing, he really should consider doing it more!) Former Phantoms goalie Scott Munroe will be the backup early on, but Roloson played more than 60 games two of the last three seasons. Even with a stuffed early-season schedule, the 40-year old can carry the ball. Nathan Lawson and Mikko Koskinen will be your goalies in Bridgeport.

 

As long as the Islanders don’t puck this up by getting cute with DiPietro health updates, this story will not come close to overshadowing the biggest one of October: the NHL debut of first overall pick John Tavares. Handled properly, DiPietro’s slow-but-steady return will not affect ticket sales and press coverage.

 

After some first-half missteps – and the still unfathomable decision to have DiPietro sit as a “healthy” backup – the Islanders got smart and were transparent with the media and their fans. I’m confident the Islanders will do the right thing with DiPietro this season.

 

Most of all, it’s not a crisis if the proper, cautious handling of DiPietro’s rehabilitation leads to him being stronger in the long run. Reports from those sources close to the team and the player are consistently optimistic that DiPietro, newly-wed and 28 in September, will get his NHL career back.

 

While the former U.S. Olympian and NHL All-Star has become that unique combination of Fan Favorite/Lightning Rod – here comes another round of “DiPietro cross-checked my dog” and “I know someone who knows someone who said Ricky isn’t nice” Comments! – the team is a whole lot better with DiPietro. The league is also a whole lot better when a talented and charismatic young man doesn’t have to retire well before his time.

 

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