The NHL's Vancouver Canucks signed tri-captain Aaron Volpatti '10 to a two-year, $400,000 contract with a $200,000 signing bonus Monday, fulfilling Volpatti's lifelong dream of playing for the team he rooted for as a child.
"It's kind of surreal still," Volpatti said. "It will probably sink in tomorrow when I fly out to Vancouver and meet everyone and Wednesday night when I'm watching the game with all of the general managers."
Volpatti will begin his career with the Manitoba Moose, an American Hockey League team affiliated with the Canucks. His season salary with the Moose will be $200,000. But it will increase to $500,000 if he gets called up to the NHL. He will receive half of the $200,000 signing bonus this year and half of it next season.
Volpatti — who finished his senior season Saturday — led the Bears with 17 goals this year, including a team-high six power-play and three game-winning goals. He also set the Brown record for penalty minutes in a season, reaching 115 minutes on a game misconduct Saturday.
The signing didn't come as a surprise. Head Coach Brendan Whittet '94 predicted it a month and a half ago in an interview with The Herald.
"He's the type of kid that can make a living playing hockey — and I don't mean in some lower minors — I mean in the National Hockey League," Whittet said on Feb. 6. "He's such a good hockey player. And when I stress ‘hockey player,' I mean in all aspects — defensively, you know physicality, you know offensively obviously he's been chipping in, and he's a good leader."
What did come as a pleasant surprise for Volpatti was that he landed with his hometown team after a bidding war between eight NHL organizations.
But he won't get to play back home quite yet. He will probably close out the last month of this season with Manitoba but hopes to be with the Canucks by the start of next season. Depending on injuries, he could get the call to the NHL by the end of this season, Volpatti said.
"I'll probably be at a couple of camps this summer with them. And if that works out well, then I could start out in Vancouver," he said.
Volpatti said his Brown teammates and coaches were "pumped" about the news. He said his success — in addition to the team's recent run in the ECAC playoffs — will open doors for his teammates when they try to play professionally and will also make Brown more appealing to recruits.
But he can't celebrate much yet. When asked what he was going to do tonight, Volpatti laughed.
"I got to start packing. I've got to leave tomorrow."
He has a job to do.