It seems that the Canucks are trying to clear up some cap space as it was announced this week that Aaron Volpatti resigned with a pay cut and that the Canucks will be going to arbitration with Mason Raymond in order to arrange a pay cut as well.
“If everything goes well and I have a good camp again and continue to get better, it’s not going to make a difference,” Volpatti told the Province. “I’ll be up there all year, hopefully. Just to be back in Vancouver was my main goal.” The 27 year old would have been a UFA come July first.
Volpatti missed most of last season because of a shoulder injury and in his 23 games registered only one goal. However, he made his physical presence known with 37 penalty minutes and 61 hits and proved that he could be capable of becoming a fourth line mainstay.
“He’s a big, physical winger who’s a nice blend of size and aggression and nicely complements our group of players,” Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman told the Province. “The challenge the last couple of years has been to create a fourth line that can be physical but also play 10 minutes a game and contribute offensively.”
“For me, I just thought I had something to prove in Vancouver,” Volpatti told the Vancouver Sun. “Obviously, I love Vancouver, I’m from B.C. and I think it was important for me to come back and prove myself. I want to play a full season in Vancouver. That’s my ultimate goal.”
As for Raymond, for the first time in Canucks history the team has activated a mechanism in the collective bargaining agreement in which they use arbitration to adjust his salary. Both sides will present a number to the arbitrator, an independent person or body, who will settle the dispute. By filing against Raymond the Canucks lose their walkaway rights and will have to go with whatever the arbitrator decides.
“This is about staying competitive in a salary cap system and it allows us to operate as efficiently as possible,” Gilman told canucks.com. “Mason is an important part of our team, one that we clearly see as part of our future going forward, if he weren’t part of the solution, we would not have tendered a qualifying offer and would have let him go as an unrestricted free agent.”
Raymond’s point production has decreased significantly over the past few years. In 2009-10 Raymond has 25 goals and 53 points. That number dropped in 2010-11 to 39 points, and that was before the fractured vertebrae that he suffered in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Through 55 games this past season Raymond had 10 goals and 20 points.
“However, we felt that he can contribute on the ice and we believe that he can contribute in a manner that’s above his level of performance the last two years,” Gilman said.
Raymond made $2.6 million last season and the Canucks hope to reduce his salary by as much as 15%, giving Raymond $2.21 million. This situation did not come as a surprise to Raymond’s agent J.P. Barry, as he has talked about the possibility of what is sometimes called “cutdown arbitration” with the Canucks before.
But why are the Canucks giving out these pay cuts? They could just be giving players the pay they deserve based on their play, but they could also be making room to sign or resign players with large contracts such as Cory Schneider. It has been over 50 days since the Canucks’ season ended, but as for the off-season action, the fun has just begun.