Spitballin’ on who will play, who won’t play, and who misread the play

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few topics that deserve mention.

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Canucks waive Aaron Volpatti, remind everyone they have a guy named Steve Pinizzotto

Mired in a two-game losing streak, the Vancouver Canucks decided it was time for some bold moves Wednesday. To that end, they announced that Aaron Volpatti has been placed on waivers, and I say good. Volpatti’s done nothing in three of the last five games. Total no-show. I mean, sure, you can say he’s been a “healthy scratch”, but if injures aren’t an excuse, then neither is health, am I right?

That was a dumb joke.

The move makes room on the roster without risking a defenceman to waivers, a wise course of action considering the team’s early good fortune when it comes to injuries on the backend appears to be normalizing. Kevin Bieksa has recently gone out with the first Vancouver blueline injury of the year, and if this team’s history is any indication, others are likely to follow. That in mind, they can’t just be waving their NHL depth defenders around, willy-nilly, asking if anybody wants one.

Of course, the question is, for whom are the Canucks making space? The recently-waived Andrew Ebbett made the most sense, until Bob McKenzie mentioned a different name in explaining the roster move.

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If not for bad luck, Steve Pinizzotto would have no luck at all

Chris Tanev may have been the first person from the Rochester Institute of Technology to play in the NHL, but he wasn’t the first to sign an NHL contract. That honour goes to Steve Pinizzotto, who signed with the Washington Capitals three years before Tanev signed with the Canucks. And yet, Tanev has played 64 games in the NHL before Pinizzotto has even played one.

Plenty of players get signed to NHL contracts without ever making it to the big leagues, but this is normally because their career stalls at a lower level. Not so for Pinizzotto, who has several solid AHL seasons under his belt to go with the kind of size and demeanour that should have earned him at least a cup of coffee in the bigs. Instead, Pinizzotto has reached his 28th birthday without a single NHL game.

Clearly, Pinizzotto must have earned himself a curse from an ethnic stereotype, because he is one of the unluckiest players in hockey. Even now, as the NHL lockout finally ends, Pinizzotto’s string of bad luck continues. The NHL lockout is over, and training camp begins in less than a week. But Pinizzotto, whom the Canucks have had in mind as a fourth line option since last offseason, won’t be there.

While the CBA “negotiations” dragged on, you see, Pinizzotto suffered a groin injury. He hasn’t played a single game for the Chicago Wolves since November 24th. It’s just the latest bit of bad luck for the Bad Luck Brian of the Vancouver Canucks.

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Hungry like the Wolves: Up the river with the Rivermen and Admirals

Hungry like the Wolves is an ongoing feature on Pass it to Bulis during the lockout, wherein we keep an eye on the Canucks prospects and property currently playing for the Wolves as it’s the closest thing we’re going to get to Canucks hockey for quite some time.

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Hungry like the Wolves: Ice the Hogs, then split with Checkers

Hungry like the Wolves is an ongoing feature on Pass it to Bulis during the lockout, wherein we keep an eye on the Canucks prospects and property currently playing for the Wolves as it’s the closest thing we’re going to get to Canucks hockey for quite some time.

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Hungry like the Wolves: Beating the Heat

Hungry like the Wolves is an ongoing feature on Pass it to Bulis during the lockout, wherein we keep an eye on the Canucks prospects and property currently playing for the Chicago Wolves as it’s the closest thing we’re going to get to Canucks hockey for quite some time. When the Canucks’ AHL affiliate flies [...]

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Two players were injured in the Canucks’ preseason game against the San Jose Sharks on September 25, 2011. One has returned to the lineup with gusto, scoring 5 points in 4 games; the other is done for the season. Alain Vigneault confirmed today that Steve Pinizzotto’s season is over before it even began — the rugged winger has undergone shoulder surgery.

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With all the talk in the offseason about the search for wingers for Kesler on the second line and the concern over the injuries to Raymond and Kesler, it seems to be lost that there isn’t actually that much competition for those spots in the lineup. It’s fairly safe to assume at this point that Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm are pencilled in as the second line wingers, with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen ready and willing to jump into those spots if necessary. As for a replacement Kesler, that role is clearly Cody Hodgson’s to lose.

No, the spots that are up for grabs are on the wings of Maxim Lapierre on the fourth line, and this is where things get interesting. After Christian Ehrhoff, the loss of Raffi Torres to free agency is the most significant change to last season’s lineup. His combination of Bowlingballitude, Streakiscoringness, and Photogenicity makes him difficult to replace.

While his place on the third line will likely be filled by Higgins or Samuelsson to start the season, neither has the right combination of attributes to be a true Raffi Replacement. Ideally, one of the players battling for a spot on the fourth line would be that replacement, ready to step into a role on the third line in case of injuries.

So who best fits this description? PITB breaks down the options, focussing on players who can fill a role on the fourth line but would be able to step up to the third. They will be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 Raffis.

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