The Capitals claimed physical winger Aaron Volpatti off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks Thursday in a move that certainly adds more grit to the roster.
Volpatti, 27, is listed at 6-0, 215 pounds and is known for his willingness to drop the gloves and dish out heavy checks. He has one goal and 28 penalty minutes, including four fights, in 16 games with the Canucks this season and was second among Vancouver forwards with 42 hits. While it’s bittersweet for Volpatti to leave Vancouver, the team that gave him his shot in the NHL, he’s eager for the new beginning with the Capitals.
“They gave me my first shot so it’s a little bit tough, but at the same time I haven’t been playing a lot,” Volpatti said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “This is a fresh start and hopefully a new opportunity I can take advantage of.”
In addition to bringing physicality in a fourth-line role, Volpatti can handle defensive responsibility as well, and he’s hoping he will be able to take on a greater role in the Capitals’ zone both at even strength and on the penalty kill.
“I’m trying to add a few more dimensions for my game, but I’ve always been a defensive guy. That always came first, no matter what level I’ve played at, it’s what I always took pride in,” Volpatti said. “I like to kill penalties, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to do in Vancouver and that’s something that down the road I hope I can contribute more.”
Volpatti’s not someone that the Capitals should expect to contribute offensively on any sort of reliable basis, though. In 54 career NHL games over the past three seasons, Volpatti has just three goals and one assist to go along with his 81 penalty minutes.
His agent, Peter Cooney, also represents forward Joel Ward and believes that the Revelstoke, British Columbia native will be a good fit with the Capitals.
“He gives you that grit, he bangs bodies and he drops the gloves. He’s a good forechecker, he’ll go in there and put a little fear of God into the guys that are wheeling out of the zone against [the Capitals],” said Cooney, who attended Washington’s game Wednesday against the Flyers. “He’s very thrilled about coming East and playing with the Caps.”
While the Capitals can use the additional forward depth, it’s a bit of a curious move given that they aren’t exactly lacking in role players who aren’t relied on to score, with Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb already in the mix.
Volpatti, who will wear No. 24 for the Capitals, will join the team in Winnipeg prior to Saturday’s game at the Jets. For more background on the new winger, check out this rundown from Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal.