There aren’t many positives about having one of the worst records in the NHL, but the Washington Capitals took advantage of one of them on Thursday: waiver priority.
Despite being coveted by teams like the Edmonton Oilers, former Vancouver Canucks left wing Aaron Volpatti is now a member of the Caps. Washington’s waiver claim could only have been topped by one team, and apparently the Columbus Blue Jackets weren’t interested.
It’s really a low risk move for the Capitals since Volpatti doesn’t make much money and is an unrestricted free agent after the season. He already seems to be amped up to do what he does, which is to forecheck energetically and make things uncomfortable for opponents in their own end.
Volpatti also isn’t shy about fighting, dropping the gloves four times so far in 2013. At one goal per season for his career, you shouldn’t expect too much offense from him, but it sounds like he could become a fan favorite at Verizon Center playing on the fourth line.
The only problem with that scenario is that the Caps already have a pretty well defined fourth line. Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb are more than willing to throw their bodies around, while Matt Hendricks does the same and even chips in the occasional goal. Hendricks also has just as many fighting majors as Volpatti.
It’s not that one of them couldn’t sit in favor of Volpatti (my gut says Crabb would be the most likely candidate), it’s just that this didn’t seem like a part of the team that was crying out to be shored up. In contrast, Washington could really use blueline help or a scoring winger to take the place of Jason Chimera (zero goals so far after 20 last season) until he gets it figures out.
Sadly, those are commodities that aren’t often just sitting around on the waiver wire. Maybe Volpatti will bring an added dimension that I don’t see, but otherwise he’s just adding to an area of relative strength. It’s never a bad idea for a last place team to try to improve its roster, I’m just not sure this particular new face does that.