Name: Jake Virtanen
Position: Right Wing
Junior Team: Calgary (WHL)
Rankings: NHL CSS – 6th (NA), ISS – 7th, Justin’s List – 9th, Logan’s List – 9th
Wow, someone Justin and I agree on! Jake “The Snake/The Hitman” (all the wrestlers!) Virtanen is a big right winger that plays for the Calgary Hitmen. He’s one of those prospects that seems to have all the attributes that could make him a great top line winger in the future.
However, his point totals (71 in 71 games) really were only just okay, and a big shoulder injury (which he had surgery on in May) have made him seem less of a “sure thing”.
Virtanen really does have all the raw materials you look for in a player – he’s big, he has one of the best shots in the draft (second according to McKeen’s), is one of the best skaters in the draft (McKeen’s), and is one of the best body checkers (again, McKeen’s). For someone to excel in several areas like Virtanen does is pretty special.
And of course, when he uses those attributes in unison with each other, he’s a hard player to contain.
This is a recording: consistency and defense, which are weaknesses of, like, every player I have profiled (at least it feels that way).
But scouts have noticed a distinct difference between Jake “With the Puck” Virtanen and Jake “Without the Puck” Virtanen. His effort needs to improve when he isn’t creating offense. He also has to learn when to pass the puck, as he is undoubtedly a shoot-first type.
Is he a good choice?
Maybe? I am conflicted on Virtanen because when you break him down, there’s a lot to like. Yet, as a whole package, there is just something missing. That, plus the injury and the meh point totals just make me feel very off on him. I think there are several better choices in the 8 spot, depending on what you’re looking for; if you want a big winger, you probably take Ritchie; if you want a speedy puck-skill type, Ehlers or Nylander.
What are the scouts saying?
“Just an amazing offensive player who has a rare package of offensive firepower and brute strength. I absolutely love his skating, smarts, creativity, physicality, pretty much everything. This is a player with everything working for him when the effort is there.” – Future Considerations’ 2014 NHL Draft Guide
“[Virtanen has a] sensational ability to create time and space for himself with deceiving change of pace and bursts of acceleration” McKeen’s 2014 NHL Draft Guide
And an actual comparison! Evander Kane.