On the Clock: Jake Virtanen
ISS Ranking: 7
Weight: 206 lbs
In a nutshell
The product of Abbotsford, BC, had 71 points (45-26-71) in 71 games with the Calgary Hitmen this past season, along with 100 penalty-minutes. Virtanen is a very quick skater, has great strength for his age, and can wire the puck. His 45 goals this past season ranked sixth in the WHL, and first among players in their 17-year-old season. In fact, five of the six players that scored more were in their overage season. Virtanen is currently recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
Been there, done that
Led Canada in scoring at the 2014 World Under-18 Championships with six points (3-3-6) in seven games, capturing a bronze medal along the way. Was a gold medalist for Canada at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, on top of winning silver for Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Challenge. Was the first overall selection in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.
His style of play has been compared to Jarome Iginla, Joffrey Lupul and Blake Wheeler. The way he plays does remind me of Iginla, but suggesting he will go on to score 560 goals in the NHL is a stretch. I see a second line version of Iginla. Someone who has potential to put up 30 goals a season while also adding that physical element that teams covet.
Word on the street
“Jake is a great skater with a great shot and when he bears in on defenders, they are on their heels. He has an edge to his game and could be that ‘grand slam’ player all teams would love to get.” – TSN’s Craig Button (Jan. 23, 2014)
Good fit in Vancouver?
Perhaps one of the most debated prospects among Canucks fans this season. I can’t see how he wouldn’t fit in Vancouver, or any team for that matter. He can skate, hit, fight, and put the puck in the net. Pair him with a playmaking centre and you get a deadly 1-2 punch. His hockey sense has been put to question, but that’s something that he can develop over time. Come playoff time, Virtanen is someone you want on your team.