The Washington Capitals made their first in-season move of 2012-13 today, claiming 27-year-old left-winger Aaron Volpatti off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.
A hard-nosed agitator, Volpatti will add some much-needed grit to the Caps' bottom-six, and though his three goals and one assist in 54 career NHL games leave much to be desired offensively, his 11 fights add another dimension to a Capitals squad that has in the past relied on John Erskine and Matt Hendricks for almost all of its fighting.
As a left-winger, Volpatti comes into a group that has struggled badly this season. While the Caps right-wing corps of Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, and Joey Crabb has combined for 23 goals, the left-wingers (Jason Chimera, Wojtek Wolski, Matt Hendricks, and Eric Fehr, who is a naturally right-winger) have combined for just nine.
Volpatti won't win the Art Ross trophy anytime soon, but he should step straight into the fourth-line against Winnipeg. This will allow Matt Hendricks and Eric Fehr, who have scored three and four goals respectively in limited minutes this season, to rise up the depth chart, perhaps even creeping into the top-six. Wolski and Chimera will likely find themselves battling to stay out of the press-box, at least for now -- the two goals scored between them have been nowhere near enough to warrant the top-six minutes they have been getting.
With Brooks Laich possibly out for the season and Marcus Johansson battling an upper-body injury, Volpatti's acquisition is a timely one for Washington. If he can add some grit and fight to a group that has lacked it in the early going of the season and maybe even chip in with some offensive production, it would be a very positive addition for George McPhee and his Capitals.