CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Aaron Volpatti
Position: Left wing
Age: 28 [turns 29 May 30]
Ht/Wt: 6-0, 215
Penalty minutes: 49
Average Ice Time: 7:21
Contract Status: One year remaining on two-year, $1.15 million contract [$575,000 cap hit in 2014-15]
Strengths: A hard hitter and hard worker, Volpatti played a career-high 41 games for the Caps last season, mostly as a fourth line left wing alongside center Jay Beagle and right wing Tom Wilson. He also dropped the gloves five times, including a devastating victory over Flyers irritant Steve Downie back on Nov. 1.
Weaknesses: In 41 games Volpatti managed just 18 shots, an average of 0.43 shots per game. The fact he scored on two of them resulted in an 11.1 shooting percentage, far better than the 0.0 shooting percentage from the previous season when he played in just 17 of 48 games. Volpatti needs to find a way to be more than a good fighter to earn another NHL contract.
Memorable Moment: Volpatti played his most dominant game on Nov. 30 on Long Island when he scored the opening goal, recorded a season-high four shots and saw 10:38 in ice time in a come-from-behind 3-2 victory sparked by Nicklas Backstrom’s game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation and Alex Ovechkin's game-winner in overtime. But the most memorable moment had to be Volpatti’s one-punch knockdown of Downie in Philadephia on Nov. 1 in that infamous 7-0 rout low-lighted by Ray Emery’s attack on Braden Holtby. In that game, Volpatti squared off with Downie and caught him in the eye with a hard left fist that had Downie calling for mercy. To his credit, Volpatti immediately stopped throwing punches. Downie was later diagnosed with a concussion.
Quotable: “He asked me to stop, so I held up,” Volpatti said. “If he had given me a cheap shot or started fighting me before I dropped my gloves I don’t think I would have done that. But I could tell he was hurt.” – Volpatti on his Nov. 1 fight with Downie.
2014-15 Expectations: Volpatti is on a one-way contract but he’ll have to earn his ice time under new coach Barry Trotz, especially if Alex Ovechkin is moved from right wing to left wing, dropping him farther down the Capitals’ depth chart on the left side. After parts of four seasons in the NHL, what you see is what you get with Volpatti -- a hard-working, fourth-liner with limited offensive ability willing to drop the gloves for his teammates.