When looking at Jake Virtanen’s individual stat line Saturday night, it was impossible to ignore two numbers. The 21-year-old Vancouver Canuck, trying to reset his National Hockey League career after a false start that sent him to the minors last season, scored his fourth goal in his sixth pre-season game during a 3-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena. And Virtanen’s fourth-line ice time of 8:39 was lowest on the Canucks. Everyone loves Virtanen’s goals total, but it’s the time on ice that the former sixth-overall draft pick must understand and embrace if he’s to give himself a chance to climb an NHL lineup this season. Two years ago, when Virtanen played as a 19-year-old NHL rookie straight out of the Western Hockey League, he was projected to compete for a top-six forward role that came with offensive expectations. After failing to get anywhere near those projections, Virtanen spent nearly all of last season in the minors, where he managed to score only nine times in 65 games for the Utica Comets. But his coach there, Travis Green, is now Virtanen’s coach with the Canucks. At least, Green will be his coach if Virtanen survives the team’s final cutdown this week to its opening-night roster of 23 players.
Virtanen rests his case to crack Canucks’ roster
Sportsnet | Oct 1