Canucks lose Aaron Volpatti to waivers, may as well stop trying, season is over

When Aaron Volpatti was placed on the waiver wire on Wednesday, I think most fully expected him to clear waivers and report to the Chicago Wolves. After all, there are no shortage of fourth line grinders who are willing to fight out there.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case: media sources on Twitter are reporting that multiple teams put in a claim on Volpatti, with the Washington Capitals getting first dibs thanks to their record. That’s right, it’s good that they’re doing so poorly. Who looks like a clownshoes management team for firing Bruce Boudreau now?

And who knew that Volpatti would be such a hot commodity?

Also unexpected, though I suppose I should have known better, was the fan outrage. I saw some Canucks fans cussing a blue streak at Gillis for “giving him away” and others calling Volpatti a “great player.” I saw emotional fans decrying the move as “stupid,” while more reasonable fans, well, also called the move stupid, but used bigger words.

There’s nothing wrong with fans being upset about a player leaving town. That’s part of being a fan: you grow attached to the players on your favourite team. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that Volpatti was the Canucks’ thirteenth forward and was thoroughly expendable. Losing him on waivers isn’t the end of the world.

I actually quite liked Volpatti. He started the vast majority of his shifts in the defensive zone and wasn’t a defensive liability. He finished his checks with authority. He didn’t shy away from a fight, despite being just 6 feet tall. He was a tough, physical player who could play a regular shift on the fourth line and that’s nothing to scoff at, especially since he effectively replaced Darcy Hordichuk, who couldn’t do that.

Amusingly, the Oilers are rumoured to have put in a claim for Volpatti, where he would have been an upgrade on Hordichuk for the second time in his career. What a legacy that would have been. Aaron Volpatti: better than Darcy Hordichuk.

I also liked using the nickname “Rat Burger” in reference to Volpatti, in large part because it confused people like crazy.

Clearly Mike Gillis liked Volpatti, enough to put him on waivers instead of trading him. It seemed possible, perhaps even likely, that Volpatti would clear, allowing the Canucks to bring him back up later in the season. For those complaining that the Canucks didn’t get anything in return for Volpatti, you have to understand that players like him are worth approximately nothing on the trade market. At most, the Canucks would get back a (very) late-round pick or a career AHLer with no chance of making the Canucks’ roster. That kind of return is hardly worth it when there was the possibility that he would clear waivers and they wouldn’t lose him at all.

With Steve Pinizzotto returning from injury, the Canucks needed to waive someone to make room for him. While Pinizzotto will immediately get sent to Chicago on a conditioning stint, the Canucks clearly didn’t want to put him on waivers and risk losing him. While he has yet to play a game in the NHL (through no fault of his own), he combines the physicality of Volpatti with more size, better hands, and more offensive skill.

As for why the Canucks chose to waive Volpatti rather than one of the other fringe players on the roster, the simple answer is that he isn’t as good at hockey as they are. (Well, that’s arguable when it comes to Cam Barker, but with Kevin Bieksa on the shelf, Barker is the Canucks’ 7th defenceman. While that’s a terrifying thought, it also makes it easy to explain why he wasn’t waived.)

Dale Weise is better than Volpatti at every aspect of hockey other than hitting and fighting, particularly when it comes to puckhandling. Where Volpatti often had trouble corraling passes, which sometimes got him into trouble when trying to clear the defensive zone, Weise has shown a proclivity for clearing the defensive zone safely and gaining the offensive zone with possession. That’s a way to make friends and influence icetime.

The Canucks’ could have sent Jordan Schroeder down to the AHL without having him go through waivers, but with Kesler injured, he’s essentially the Canucks second line centre. Besides, he’s played well enough to secure his spot in the lineup even with Kesler healthy.

Ultimately, losing Volpatti to waivers isn’t exactly a good thing, as he was a useful player, but it’s also not terrible and certainly not indicative of a failure on the part of Mike Gillis.

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36 comments

  1. adrock
    February 28, 2013

    TSN website comments make me laugh – clearly the best resolution for this situation was to keep the illustrious Aaron Volpatti, and trade Booth for pucks to make room for Pinizzotto. Classic

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    • akidd
      February 28, 2013

      hold on. how many pucks exactly?

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  2. Abby
    February 28, 2013

    EVERBODY FLIP THE POOL.

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    Rating: +22 (from 22 votes)
  3. newguy69
    February 28, 2013

    22-33-14
    21-45-36
    20-40-32
    7-25-9 ??

    Not long term, but that seems like a decent lineup.

    I always assumed when Booth and Kesler came back and if Kassian was a bit more consistent the 2nd line would be 7-17-9. Booth and Kass can get more familiar together in the meantime and effectively use their size to wear down people.

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  4. steveB
    February 28, 2013

    sigh… Godspeed Rat Burger, Godspeed…

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    Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
  5. Frank N
    February 28, 2013

    Well, it does suck to lose a player with his grit and willingness to fight, with the latter being essential as the Canucks cannot trust Weise to win a fight and I would not like Kassian to fight too much for the risk of injury.* Having said that, putting Volpatti on waivers, rather than anybody else, was the best option for the team in the current situation. Good luck to Volpatti in DC!

    * So everybody once again will call the Canucks soft!

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  6. Unknown Comic
    February 28, 2013

    Volpatti makes my favourite team more manly, and by proxy, I then feel more manly. Please stop confusing these primative feelings with facts.

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  7. James W.
    February 28, 2013

    Oh no! He was the perfect replacement for Mike Duco!

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  8. DanD
    February 28, 2013

    It is too bad to lose him. But I tend to think losing a player to waivers like that forces a team to give a longer look to other players. Hopefully Pinizzoto stands out!

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  9. rse
    February 28, 2013

    Hopefully Volpatti does land some ice time with the Caps to develop his game. Maybe he’ll come back out this way on his own.

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  10. Colby
    February 28, 2013

    I like your take on everything, but I just dont get why everyone thinks Pinizozoto is a sure thing 4th line NHLer? He cant seem to keep his body together in the AHL/Practicing?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      February 28, 2013

      That’s pretty much it, though. He’s a sure thing 4th liner if he can stay healthy. Pinizzotto’s a much better player than Volpatti. If he can survive the conditioning stint, people will get a chance to see that.

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      • akidd
        February 28, 2013

        pinizzotto’s nhl record clearly speaks for itself:)

        but seriously, he looked pretty smooth on the ice a couple of pre-seasons ago. a nice skater cleanly passing and receiving pucks if i recall(which isn’t that easy to do.)

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      • Colby
        March 1, 2013

        True enough, I liked his game alot when he came on to the scene a few years ago. I also approve of his uber italian name.

        I just feel durability is an underatted attribute. Sure Volpatti might not be perfect, but his body was holding together after posting the second amount of hits on the team.

        I just remember Bolduc, seemed like a perfect 4th line center, but couldnt keep his body together in the NHL.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          March 1, 2013

          How soon we forget. Volpatti missed half of last season with a shoulder injury. He’s hardly a picture of durability.

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          • Colby
            March 1, 2013

            Haha called me on it, I still blame the paperwork error! It should of been Mason!
            The point might be moot if Sesito can punch his way into AV’s heart.

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  11. Rituro
    February 28, 2013

    Wait… Volpatti… vole patty… I get it!

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  12. Volpatti is from Revelstoke
    February 28, 2013

    Kind of like having local players with heart on the team… I’m disappointed…

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  13. Kenji
    February 28, 2013

    He wasn’t called “Peppermint” Volpatti?

    Missed opportunity.

    Also, good luck in Washington.

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  14. Chris the Curmudgeon
    February 28, 2013

    Curious to see what Pinnizotto can do. I guess our starting 12 could be something to the effect of:
    Sedins-Burrows
    Booth-Schroeder-Raymond
    Hansen-Lapierre-Higgins
    Weise-Ebbett-Pinnizotto

    Big load for Schroeder to carry, but he’s been pretty decent so far. That fourth line could be fun to watch, some speed and some grit and probably not a defensive liability. Would look better with Malhotra on it but them’s the breaks.

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    • akidd
      February 28, 2013

      except put hansen with schroeder and raymond.

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  15. Rob
    February 28, 2013

    While we are talking about wingers, I’d like to throw this out there.

    The Canucks have Booth, Raymond, Hansen, Higgins, Weise, Pinnizotto, and Kassian. 7 wingers for 6 positions. To me, Kassian is being wasted in the press box or grinding out 4th line minutes, I think he would be best suited getting 10-12 mins per game on the 3rd or possibly 2nd line. That being said, Booth, Raymond, Hansen, Higgins, Kassian are vying for 4 roster spots. Booth makes 4M and it doesnt make sense paying a guy that much to play on the 3rd or 4th line. Who sits? Higgins, and Raymond are UFA’s and Weise is an RFA. Do they get re-signed or traded? Is Booth worth keeping, or does he fall victim to a compliance buyout?

    After this season GMMG has an opportunity to re-shape the team a bit I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on this.

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    • Nee
      February 28, 2013

      Keep in mind also that Nicklas Jensen (also a winger) could be on the roster next year (or the year after).

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      • Daniel Wagner
        February 28, 2013

        Or heck, even this year. The SEL season is almost over and Jensen is expected to join the Wolves. Depending on how he performs and how the Canucks are doing injury-wise, he could see some time with the Canucks this season.

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        • Nee
          February 28, 2013

          That would be RAD

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        • Rob
          March 1, 2013

          Wait…. Kassian (22), Schroeder (22), Tanev (23), and Jensen (19) could actually be in the line-up? Together? At the same time? This can’t be happening, they are way too young! Where is AV and what have you done with him!?!? – A youth movement in Vancouver could be just what the doctor ordered.

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  16. chicken chick
    February 28, 2013

    With Manny and Volpatti gone
    And Kesler with a broken foot
    Like many fans I am hard put
    To see how we can carry on

    Let’s panic now and make a trade
    Like David Booth for Genghis Khan
    A lot less cool for much more brawn
    From off the Steppes where Mongols played

    Edler for Atilla the Hun
    And maybe Maxim whatshisname
    For Joe Berserk and Charlemagne
    A wondrous coup of two for one

    Votigern for the twins Sedin
    Mason Raymond for Typhoid Mary
    Jordan Schroeder for someone scary
    Exhange finesse for Cherry mean

    It’s time MG got off his duff
    I say these things half tongue in cheek
    Lord Stanley’s cup’s not for the meek
    Today’s Canucks aren’t tough enough

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      February 28, 2013

      Well, I’d give you thumbs up for the rhyming
      But rescind it for a lack of timing
      In strength this year’s team fits the bill
      What’s truly lacking is top end skill

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  17. Nee
    February 28, 2013

    Sure, laugh now Daniel, but just you wait until tomorrow when Chris Higgins has a staph infection IN HIS ABS.

    /flips pool

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  18. Carlo
    February 28, 2013

    This is just a case of typical Vancouver panicking. Lol! Relax guys! We’ve only lost 5 out of 7 games (gasp)!

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  19. BBoone
    March 1, 2013

    Our merry band of Canuck fans are quite fortunate to have a daily column which not only combines humour and and rationality , but takes the time to properly analyze hockey as it occurs on the ice ( Sedin videos and other in depth breakdowns of hockey action ) and off the ice ( Aaron Volpatti is not Gordie Howe and Mike Gillis is not a fool ) On the other hand…David Booth for some pucks..? just what brand of pucks are we talking about here ?

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      March 1, 2013

      Well regardless of brand, at least the pucks will be familiar with the back of the net.

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    • Colby
      March 1, 2013

      I agree Booth is a public relations timebomb..

      But his overall game is not bad and doesnt hurt the team. He gets pucks through the neutral zone and and heads straight for the net when hes in the offensive zone. Atleast if Booth isnt scoring, hes doing other things.

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      • Brent
        March 1, 2013

        “Atleast if Booth isnt scoring, hes doing other things.”

        Hunting, thumping a bible, voting republican, eating gas station sandwiches….

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  20. TeeJay
    March 1, 2013

    We should let the dogs out and we can start playing the “WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?!!”

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  21. steveB
    March 2, 2013

    whoa, Rat Burger had a scrap with the much larger Anthony Peluso of the Jets this afternoon.
    It looked like Peluso had the upper hand by far, but Volpatti broke it with his face.
    Peluso gone with an UBI.

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