Islanders to buy out Alexei Yashin

The New York Islanders will buy out the remaining four years of forward Alexei Yashin's contract, the club announced on Wednesday.

The New York Islanders will buy out the remaining four years of forward Alexei Yashin's contract, the club announced on Wednesday.

Yashin had signed a 10-year deal with the Islanders in 2001 for $87.5 million US. The club will be on the hook for two-thirds of the remaining amount under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, over $17 million that can be spread over eight years.

"This decision was one of the hardest I have ever had to make," Islanders owner Charles Wang said in a press release. "The organization holds Alexei in the highest regard — as a player, as a teammate and as a person.

"He was part of the revival of the franchise at a time when we had not qualified for the playoffs for eight seasons. All of us at the Islanders wish Alexei nothing but the best as he continues his career."

Yashin's best season with the Islanders, statistically speaking, was his first. He tallied 32 goals and 43 assists for New York in 2001-02.

While supremely talented, he became known as one of the league's most inconsistent players.

Yashin appeared rejuvenated this season under first-year coach Ted Nolan, scoring 30 points in 24 games. But the 33-year-old's productionsoon tailed off andhewas laterhampered by a right knee injury.

He finished with 18 goals and 32 assists in 58 games, but went pointless in five playoff games as the Isles bowed out in the first round to the Buffalo Sabres.

"The Islanders have treated me with the utmost respect," Yashin said in the release. "I've always believed in the vision Charles Wang has for the organization and although I won't be a part of it, I believe that the team is headed in the right direction. I'm looking forward to this new chapter in my life."

Yashin was selected second overall in the 1992 NHL entry draft by the Ottawa Senators.

After seven seasons with the Senators, including consecutive seasons with over 40 goals, Yashin and the organization became entangled in a contract dispute.

Ottawa senttheir leading scorerto New York in 2001 for Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and a first-round draft pick, which was used by the Senators to select Jason Spezza.

Yashin led or was tied in team scoring for three of his seasons on Long Island.

With many hockey observers regarding the lengthy contract as onerous, the Islanders raised eyebrows in 2006by signing goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, $68 million US deal.

The club, which snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season,needed to free up space under its salary cap.

Forwards Jason Blake, Viktor Kozlov and Ryan Smyth — acquiredbefore the trade deadline from Edmonton — are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

"We're going to have to pick up goal-scoring, whether it's keeping the unrestricted free agents we have on our roster or another solution," general manager Garth Snow told Newsday. "It's a void we have to fill."

DiPietro, meanwhile, is recovering from offseason hip surgery.