Grinder Aaron Volpatti Claimed by Capitals

Per Ryan Rishaug, who has spent the past twenty-four hours pumping Aaron Volpatti’s tires very publicly, the Canucks grinder was claimed on waivers by the Washington Capitals today. 

Read on past the jump.

This loss stings a bit, I suppose, for the Canucks. They’ve been loathe to lose depth players for nothing on waivers over the years, and I’m sure Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman were crossing their fingers and hoping that Volpatti would clear and remain in the organization. Ultimately, they needed to recall a center to fill in for Kesler in the short-term and if the choice is between a twenty-four year old who is faster and better at hockey (Dale Weise) than the twenty-seven year old who is the bigger hitter (Aaron Volpatti), well, that really isn’t a very difficult decision.

Writing up the Canucks victory over the Stars a week ago, I wrote the following:

While we’re on the subject, I suspect that Canucks fans are going to have Aaron Rome flashbacks with Dale Weise throughout this season. I imagine that he’s going to stay in the lineup ahead of Aaron Volpatti at least, and if he continues to struggle as he has of late, Zack Kassian too. Though both Volpatti and Kassian are more physical than Weise, and Kassian has way more upside, Weise is the steadiest defensive player in the group and is remarkably polished on zone-exits in particular.

On one shift mid-way through the second period, Alex Edler – who had been on the ice for about seventy seconds prior to this – sent a pass to Volpatti that the grinder whiffed on. The puck went to the point where a Stars defenseman shot it. Schneider bailed his winger out by catching the puck and stopping play, but that’s the sort of potentially critical defensive play that Weise makes every time, and that Volpatti will need to make more often if he wants to stay in the lineup.

That said, I was a pretty big admirer of Aaron Volpatti’s game generally speaking. He’s a ferocious hitter, a willing fighter and he’s absolutely not a liability at five-on-five. At 27 years of age, it’s unlikely that Aaron Volpatti is ever going to develop into a third-line fixture, but he was a fourth-liner you could count on to play between seven and ten minutes per game without hurting you. That’s valuable in a league where one-dimensional enforcers play third line minutes alongside Nazem Kadri on some teams… 

Losing Volpatti isn’t nothing, he was a useful depth winger and a solid physical presence on the fourth line. The Canucks still have Steve Pinizzotto in the organization, but he’s proven not to be very durable over the past several seasons and if he goes down with another injury, the Canucks may need to make a move to add a player of Volpatti’s ilk to the fourth line.

Losing Volpatti on waivers is also not the massive loss that I’m sure Canucks fans are going to make it. It’s not emblematic of Mike Gillis’ inability to do anything right of late, and the team can afford to lose Volpatti without critically harming their overall team toughness. Volpatti is basically a replacement level, 27 year old forward and those sorts of players are available on waivers on a day-to-day basis in the National Hockey League. If Pinizzotto gets hurt and can’t fill Volpatti’s shoes, the Canucks will claim a guy who can.

Best of luck to the Revelstoke born, Ivy League chucker in D.C. though.