Aaron Volpatti has only lived in the D.C. area with his fiancee since March.
“I don’t have a very good sense of direction, so that’s a bit of a problem for me here. I’ve gotten lost a few times,” Volpatti said. “But the city’s great. We’re living right around this area in Arlington so it’s a great area. Nothing to complain about.”
In under two months since the Washington Capitals claimed him off waivers, Volpatti really has nothing to complain about. Sure, he’d like a bigger role, but he has a regular spot in the Caps’ lineup going into the playoffs and on Wednesday got a two-year contract extension worth $1.15 million.
“Obviously I think that means they’re pretty happy so far with me,” Volpatti said. “And I’m obviously happy to be here for another two years.”
Volpatti wondered about his future during his first few weeks with the Caps when he didn’t play a whole lot. At the time it was hard for him to see a two-year deal coming.
But Volpatti’s north-south game impressed coach Adam Oates, and he showed he was a more valuable piece on the fourth line than Wojtek Wolski.
“We brought him in because of his skating ability, size and physical play. He hits guys,” Oates said. “When he finishes guys, they’re aware of him out there, and that’s an important contribution.”
Volpatti might have started the Caps’ season turnaround, too. March 14 at the Carolina Hurricanes, it was his deft pass to Joey Crabb that jump-started the comeback victory.
“He’s done a great job and he’s really showed his skill level,” defenseman Mike Green said. “Not only can he hold his own in a fight, but he’s got some depth to him and he can handle the puck and score some goals.”
Volpatti has only the one assist in 15 games for the Caps. But he’s counted on for different things, like hitting and providing a deterrent for opposing teams’ agitators.
“The guy works really hard out there,” linemate Jay Beagle said. “He’s fun to play with, He hits hard and brings a certain energy to the line that we need.”
The Vancouver Canucks put Volpatti on waivers Feb. 27 and lost him to the Caps the next day. When the 27-year-old was a healthy scratch often in his first few weeks, he didn’t know where he’d end the season or if he’d be back on the waiver wire soon after.
“It creeps into your mind, but I try not to think about it,” Volpatti said. “It’s been a pretty hectic year in terms of moving and your state of mind when things are a lot of up and down. I try not to think about it.”
Volpatti put his head down and played. Injuries to Brooks Laich and Joel Ward opened a spot in the lineup back up for him, and he has shown enough value to get a deal worth $575,000 for each of the next two years.
“He’s OK with just going out there and hitting guys and kind of creating havoc,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “He doesn’t need to be scoring goals or getting any spotlight. He’s just happy with doing what his job is to do. And that’s what’s really important.”
Volpatti has “nothing but positive things” to say about the Caps and his experience in Washington. Moving forward, he’d love a bigger role.
“I’ve felt good, I’ve felt confident,” he said. “Going forward I want to be a bigger part of the special teams, you know, the penalty kill. But with the guys going well right now, I’m just happy to contribute any way I can.”