Whether you agreed with the selection of Jake Virtanen in 2014 or not is completely irrelevant. He was the selection, and he is one of the guys looking to crack the opening night roster of the Vancouver Canucks.
In 2016, the Abbotsford Kid showed up to camp appearing to expect an easy time of making the Canucks. He was heavy at 231 pounds, and had an air of entitlement about him. This lack of preparation led to a disappointing season in both the NHL and AHL. The media was brutally honest about the homegrown Canuck prospect. Our friends at Pass it to Bulis spent some time discussing if there was a future for Jake Virtanen. They weren’t the only ones to ask the question (many of the NM faithful have expressed similar concern). Maybe Jake spent some time reading what was said, because this offseason looks to have made a difference.
This offseason, Jake spent a lot of time eating right and hitting the gym. This had a big impact on his arrival at training camp, weighing in at around 215 pounds (which is where he was on opening night in 2015).
Heading into Camp, Virtanen was saying all of the right things. Here’s a piece from Sportsnet where he discusses striving to be a ‘game changer’. Here’s the opening day media session Virtanen shared with Ben Hutton.
It is apparent that Jake is here to earn a spot this year given how many folks have talked about his performance thus far.
First player of group A - Jake Virtanen— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) September 14, 2017
Virtanen has mentioned several times that he is prepared to do whatever it takes to make the big team, even if that’s a spot on the 4th line. This leads one to believe that he is motivated to get his foot in the door and earn more ice time.
In the first game of the pre-season, Virtanen delivered ‘110% effort every shift’. He was aggressive with the body, and was dangerous with the puck in his 12 minutes of ice time. His time on ice was low due to him not being a part of either the powerplay or penalty kill. He scored the second Canucks goal in a 4-on-4 situation and joined Bo Horvat on the ice as the second forward in Overtime.
With the roster for China now set and no rookies headed overseas, this will be a perfect opportunity for Virtanen to showcase how much he’s grown as a player!
Do you believe that Virtanen has taken steps to becoming the type of player we thought he’d become when we drafted him? Is this all smoke and mirrors?