Much Info On Canucks' 6th Overall Pick Jake Virtanen

Jeff Zelevansky

It has to be noted that Yankee Canuck participated in SBN's Mock Draft on June 13 and who did he pick as armchair Canucks GM?

New Westminister, BC's Jake Virtanen.

Check out his post here. It has almost all of the Virtanen info that you need, including these quoted gems:

Via the NHL Profile Scouting Report:

"He's got a complete, all-around pro game right now. He's tough to play against, makes things happen on the ice. When you're out there with him, better have your head up because he could put you through the wall. He's got that package of high-end skill that doesn't come along too often; he's like a Jarome Iginla type of player who can do everything."

Via MyNHLDraft.com:

• Speed – Big man speed with acceleration, agility, balance. Won the 30 metre sprint, backward and forward, at the CHL Top Prospects game.

• Shot – Big gun, quick finger, hits target, penetrates net.

• Power forward – Jake Virtanen has the size, skating, drive and physicality teams look for in a power forward – Jake is probably the purest power forward in the draft.

• Improvements to make – Judging by his performance in January (13 goals and 20 points in 14 games), Jake has already come a long way. However, he should continue to work on using his teammates better, push for excellence in his defensive work and exert his physicality on a constant basis to win puck battles.

• Draft placement – Most have Jake at or around the top 10 now but if he continues to produce at or improve upon his January pace he could go significantly higher because his size and physical skills are as elite as just about anyone in the draft.

Via B.J. MacDonald, NHL Central Scouting:

"His level of compete is very good, so I think he is underrated in that department. He has the ability to shift gears and beat guys wide, so he has deceptive speed as well."

Via McKeens Hockey:

.. sensational ability to create time and space for himself with deceiving change of pace and bursts of acceleration .. seems to do more with his skating ability .. despite quick hands his effectiveness is diminished by his passing efficiency and play selection .. very reactive player that doesn’t seem to anticipate the game, rather responds to it .. hockey sense routinely comes into question .. wicked release and can shoot on the fly without breaking stride .. at his best when he intimidates with his speed, driving defenders on their heels and engaging in 1 on 1 situations .. still needs to adopt better structure, playing a scattered game while gravitating to and over-fixating on the puck .. improved this year defensively playing with more determination, blocking shots and being involved physically .. Virtanen has the size and skating ability to satisfy a role in the NHL however he will infuriate top players as he does not always distribute the puck in a timely manner.

Via TSN's preseason rankings report:

Jake has undeniable skill. Excellent skater who has speed, quickness and power. Can beat defenders with his skating and when he gets an advantage, his size makes it almost impossible for a defender to get back on equal footing. Very strong shot and can beat goaltenders from out but also has the quickness in his hands to score in tight. Has the potential to be a dynamic scoring winger.

I will leave it up to you to go check that post out for much more info on Virtanen, including video.

I do have something different for you, and that is a transcribed interview with Virtanen after he was picked 6th overall by the Canucks on Friday.

Well, Look Who Called It!

JAKE VIRTANEN: It's always a dream come true for a hometown kid to get picked, and I'm looking at it, it's pretty surreal for me. I'm still trying to soak it in, and it's an amazing feeling.

Q. Walk us through today, your emotions.

JAKE VIRTANEN: Yeah, I kind of just sat at the hotel just sweating all day, but it came to me, and it really hit me now, and it's pretty crazy to get drafted by Vancouver. It's always been a dream for me. Being picked, the whole day was pretty crazy, and just trying to kill time until right now, so it's an amazing feeling.

Q. Talk about what the Calgary Hitmen has meant for your development?

JAKE VIRTANEN: Yeah, it's really big. Calgary has been a great development program for me. Being drafted there, I knew it's a great place to play. And playing in the Saddledome, I got the experience of playing in an NHL rink at a young age, so that really helped me, and so far it's really helped me develop as a player. They take time out of their day to always make us better players, so it's really good.

Q. How big a Canucks fan were you growing up? Did you have a favorite player that you idolized?

JAKE VIRTANEN: Yeah, like I said earlier, growing up, Markus Naslund (edit: god forgive him) was always my favorite player. I idolize him still. He was an amazing player, and when the team needed him, he was always there to make the team better and make his teammates better around him. He did a great job of that, and he was always a guy to look up to at a young age.

Q. It's been a while since the Canucks have picked a local kid in the draft. That comes with big expectations. How much do you look forward to the challenge of playing in the spotlight in your own backyard?

JAKE VIRTANEN: It's amazing. I'm kind of looking at it like it's playing at my home barn -- growing up and watching them play. And I'm really excited to play in front of my friends and family. I've lived in Langley and Abbotsford both, so I know my friends are going to be excited. So I'm really looking forward to it.


Q. As a fan, what's your reaction to the Ryan Kesler trade earlier?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
Yeah, you know, I didn't really know until not very long ago about it. But I heard about it, and I just tried to shake it off and try not to worry about it. I knew that Vancouver is picking sixth, and it's a big step for me. I think it's a little stepping-stone for me to just get drafted, and there's still more to come and there's still lots of stuff to do to make the NHL. I'm really looking forward to improving and trying to make the step to the NHL.


Q. Were you expecting this point? Were you thinking you would go a little later? Were you caught off guard?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
I wasn't too caught off guard. I think Vancouver, I had a pretty good interview with them at the Combine and they were impressed by how I played during the year. They were really friendly people, and I know Vancouver is a great place to play. I knew with the whole shoulder issue that there could have been controversy of me dropping spots or something. But I think with technology nowadays, I don't think that's a big deal.


Q. At what point did you start to think, it might actually happen, probably when you were 10 years old you wanted to play for the Canucks. At what point did you think it might happen?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
You know, growing up, it was around probably the age of 12 that I knew that I had a little bit of skill, but around bantam I knew that I was kind of a high-end player. And growing up in the lower mainland, I have an NHL team and an AHL team right there so I got to experience a lot of hockey. We're kind of a hockey town there. It's surreal right now. I'm pretty much speechless. I won't be able to say too much more. But it's an amazing honor to be drafted by Vancouver.


Q. How much did you get out of going to watch the Vancouver Giants?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
Yeah, growing up I watched more Giants games than I did Canucks games. But growing up and watching the Giants, Milan Lucic and Evander Kane, those were big name guys on their teams, and they made a big impact right away, and I always had told my dad that I wanted to play in the Western Hockey League since I was a young kid watching those guys play, and my dream came true in that sense, and now it's came true again. It's pretty crazy right now.


Q. How did you sleep last night?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
Not very good. You know, I was tossing and turning throughout the night, and my brother woke me up, and I was like, already? This is pretty early. It's pretty crazy. I think not sleeping is kind of worth it right now, and it's an amazing feeling.


Q. What's your recovery schedule like?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
I think around -- I'm not sure exactly when the contact will be able to start -- but I'm really aiming for mid-October. I think that's when I'll be ready, and I want to be -- if it's not mid-October, I think I just want to be 100 percent healthy. I think that's the goal. I'm not going to rush anything, and I just want to be healthy and be able to play my best game.


Q. Talk about the technology. What did they tell you about what you can expect?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
Yeah, the recovery, the whole thing, it's pretty simple. It's just bands and simple things just to make it stronger. There's nothing too much, but with the technology nowadays, like I said, it's just the whole -- we have great doctors, and where I got my surgery was in Vancouver. I had a great doctor do the surgery, and it's pretty special to be drafted by Vancouver and doing the whole surgery there. It's crazy.


Q. People have talked about your skating and how strong you are at 18, and those are generally the two biggest obstacles for guys who want to play in the NHL. Do you think you might be two or three years or that you might play sooner?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
Yeah, right now I think if the shoulder was ready, I think I'd for surely be NHL ready. I think my size and my speed and shot is a pretty good combination. There's still room to improve, like I said plenty of times before. But I think with the coaching staff in Vancouver, I know they're great. It's pretty crazy right now, the whole feeling. I think if I just keep improving, I think I'll be NHL ready for sure.


Q. How much interaction have you had with Hunter Shinkaruk?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
Yeah, Hunter and I actually had been talking this week, and he just had said good luck, and he's a nice guy to talk to. He was just trying to kind of break the ice. It's pretty cool, I know Hunter is a great player. He didn't play too much here because he was injured, as well, but the games we did play, he's a great player, and he had a strong couple years there when he was in Medicine Hat there, and he's a skilled player and he's definitely a big impact on Medicine Hat, and he will be for Vancouver, as well.


Q. He's been going through a rehab himself. Have you asked him about the mental side of that, getting through it?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
Yeah, and I haven't really asked him about it too much, but I know my brother went to the same situation as me, and he gave me a lot of advice, and it was just to just stay positive and stay focused and always just try to get better all the time and be healthy, so I think that was the main thing.


Q. How do you respond to the assist thing?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
You know, I don't worry about it too much. I think this year on Calgary we had a lot of skilled playmakers on our team and guys who could make plays. We acquired some guys that could make plays such as Adam Tambellini and we had Greg Chase and guys who could make plays, and I think my team and my coach really relied on me to shoot the puck this year from pretty much anywhere in the zone. And I feel like I did a good job of that this year, and I think if I can kind of even that whole assist-goal thing out, I think that would be a good improvement. And I'm really looking forward to doing that, as well.


Q. What's your take on the pressure? Obviously there's going to be more attention on you being the highest pick they've had since '99. How do you think that you're prepared to deal with that?


JAKE VIRTANEN:
Yeah, I think I play pretty well under pressure. I play strong and play hard all the time. I don't think that's too big of a deal. I like playing in front of my friends and family. I like to kind of impress them a little bit and kind of put on a show for them. I love having fun with my friends and family. I know they're really ecstatic about it, and same with me, and it's an amazing feeling.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports. Thanks for providing, SBN Overlords!

Good luck, kid!

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