Thought hockey men would somehow change? Think again.
A report surfaced Tuesday from CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal from “Donnie and Dhali — The Team,” who said that the Edmonton Oilers are “one of the teams in the mix” to sign former Canuck Jake Virtanen.
“I do believe the Oilers are one of the teams in the mix,” Dhaliwal said on the show. “I think there’s four of five, Donnie.”
“Jake Virtanen, with his size, his speed, he comes cheap, so that’s why there are four or five teams on him.”
This report has to be considered mildly surprising. Virtanen went through a very public sexual assault trial, where he was found not guilty by a jury in July.
Aside from the trial, it’s been a while since Virtanen was, well, actually good at hockey.
The Abbotsford native had a career year in 2019-20 with 18 goals and 36 points in 69 games with the Canucks. However, there were some red flags that his production wasn’t sustainable. Notably, his Individual Points Percentage of 83.8% suggested that he was going to regress.
He also was a no-show in the playoffs for the Canucks in 2020, registering two goals and three points in 16 games.
During his last NHL season in 2020-21, Virtanen scored five goals and had no assists in 36 games. He was then bought out of the last season in his contract.
Last season in the KHL with Moscow Spartak, the winger had nine goals and 16 points in 36 games. He was outscored on his own KHL team by notable players such as Emil Pettersson (Elias Pettersson’s older brother), former NHLers Tim Heed, Alexander Khokhlachev, Jori Lehtera, and Canuck-legend Sergei Shirokov.
Despite the lack of production for multiple seasons, it sounds like Virtanen could still get a shot at playing NHL games this year.
And perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the Oilers are one of the teams in the mix. This was a team that took chances on players with perceived character issues in Zack Kassian and Evander Kane in past seasons.