VANCOUVER – Aaron Volpatti’s first goal of the season was also his last.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday the Canucks fourth-line left-winger will miss the rest of the campaign due to a shoulder injury that will require surgery within the next week.
“Patti has been having some shoulder issues,” Vigneault said. “He had an MRI done (Friday) and, unfortunately, it showed a labrum tear.”
Volpatti scored in Thursday’s 6-5 loss to the Nashville Predators, his first goal in almost a year.
The last one came Dec., 20, 2010, in St. Louis during a rookie season split between the NHL and the minors. The 26-year-old from Revelstoke, B.C., signed with the Canucks as a free agent out of Brown University in March 2010 and secured full-time NHL employment this season after a strong prospects camp, training camp and pre-season.
Volpatti dressed for all but two games, when he was a healthy scratch, and provided stability to a fourth line that underwent constant change last season.
“He was a real disappointed young man (Saturday) morning. He was finding his rhythm in this league and on our team,” Vigneault said. “(He) was well appreciated in his role by his teammates and his coaches. But, unfortunately, it isn’t something that you can control.”
Volpatti’s absence will result in the second significant change to the fourth line this season. Earlier, Dale Weise, picked up on waivers from the New York Rangers, replaced Viktor Oreskovich, who was sent to the minors.
“It doesn’t change what Dale Weise is supposed to be, which is an energy and physical player,” Vigneault added. “So he’s gotta continue to do that.”
Oreskovich, now with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, has struggled in the minors and is not expected back anytime soon. For now, the Canucks do not plan on calling anyone up to replace Volpatti, who joins a list of hard-luck grinding Vancouver forwards who have been sidelined with injuries. All were off-season free agent signings.
Steve Pinizzotto is out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury in the exhibition campaign; Byron Bitz is recuperating from hip surgery; and Andrew Ebbett has missed nine games with a fractured foot suffered while blocking a shot Nov. 10 in Los Angeles.
Bitz skated on his own Saturday for the first time since undergoing surgery, but is not expected to return anytime. He may go to the minors for conditioning purposes first, while Ebbett is at least two weeks away from returning.
“That’s why you need depth,” said Vigneault with a chuckle.