Should the Leafs Acquire Jake Virtanen? #mycolumn

Should Canada’s Team make a play for Jake Virtanen?

With each passing day, we get closer to the NHL trade deadline. It’s no surprise then, that possible trade targets are starting to emerge more regularly. What is surprising, however, is the quality young talent that is apparently available.

In the last week, we’ve seen Jonathan Drouin and Kerby Rychel both request trades from their respective teams.
We can add another young name to the list of players possibly on the move: Jake Virtanen.

When the Canucks selected Virtanen at 6th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, they had high hopes for him. But those hopes have vanished over the last week [insert source here]. Players are defined by one play in their careers, and his performance in Canada’s loss to Finland was the only and final straw.
With Virtanen possibly on the move, should the Leafs be interested?
Virtanen has been ridiculed for his performance on a big stage. What better way for him to win back the hearts of Canadians than playing for Canada’s team? All he has to do is have one big Saturday night and all will be forgiven. He’d have to play at a high level in Vancouver for 15 years to reach that same level of forgiveness, and even then he might still be underappreciated.
It’s also a safe guess that Virtanen would love to play here as he is probably a Leafs fan. This is based on the fact that he is Canadian. Yes, he grew up in British Columbia but the Canucks weren’t even a team until 1970 and have never won a Stanley Cup.
For the Leafs, the interest is simple: he’s a big body who can slot into a third line checking role with the possibility of sliding up to the second line when there is an injury to one of Toronto’s talented players who don’t choke in big games like Kasperi Kapanen, who is expected to be a fixture in the top 6 for a long time. Maybe Babcock even considers putting him on William Nylander’s wing as a precautionary toughness measure – like how Luke Gazdic has been deployed in Edmonton at times. This’ll be mostly important if the Leafs ever play Team Switzerland, otherwise he probably stays in the bottom six.
We’ve established Virtanen’s likely interest in the Leafs, and Toronto’s likely interest in Virtanen. So, what would be the cost?
With his stock being low, you’re probably looking at a decent pick and a roster player that the Canucks would covet. A 3rd and Tyler Bozak seems to be a fair offer. Brandon Sutter is out, and even when he comes back the Canucks are thin up front with the impending disintegrations of both Sedins.
Would you do that if you were the Leafs? It’s tough to give up a 1st liner like Bozak, but he likely isn’t part of the long-term plan here in Toronto. He makes a lot more sense for a win-now team like the Canucks, who need a top 6 forward (something that Virtanen probably doesn’t amount to). And don’t forget that Bozak is still young. The 3rd round pick is a bit of a sweetener for the Canucks, who can replenish the cupboards and hope to find a player of Virtanen’s ilk in the third round.

It’s hard to imagine the Canucks moving Virtanen, but a rumour is a rumour – and every player possibly on the move right now is linked to the Leafs. It makes sense that Virtanen could be as well. That said, it would be a complete overreaction by the Canucks to trade Virtanen based on one or two bad plays. A complete overreaction indeed.

  • Harte of a Lion

    I dunno, I don’t think trading Bozak is a good idea. He’s still so young and could be a part of the leaf’s core for many years to come. He’s still learning and he’s only going to get better, especially since Kessel is no longer around to impede his development.

  • Jeremy Ian

    This is getting to be a little like the Republican primaries in the US: silly season. Why stop at Jake Virtanen? Why not throw every teenager who’s barely starting a career onto the table and speculate?

    Editorial suggestion: curb the overused Wall Street metaphors about the value of stocks. Wall Street’s gotten us into enough of a mess; it doesn’t have to infect our prose too.

  • Jeremy Ian

    “He’d have to play at a high level in Vancouver for 15 years to reach that same level of forgiveness”

    Hahaha I love it.

    Suburban Canucks will be rioting downtown in no time.

  • Harte of a Lion

    A year ago the rabid Leaf fans would have given Bozak away for a bag of pucks, 2 Burkie dogs and a beer as long as we would not have to retain salary. Now he is worth Virtanen? Babcock for Mayor?
    Go Leafs!

  • STAN

    no logic in this article, it’s sort of an editor in leaf’ writing about any subject, like they’re a syndicated newspaper columnist with a deadline to write about something, followed by a girly stream of consciousness.
    Vancouver boy not a fan of Bure-Linden-Brown-Mogliny, Naslund-Bertuzzi-Jovanoski, Sedin-Sedin-Kesler-Ohland.
    that’s a bigger gaffaw than the ‘goat-one’s.
    Vancouver took the ‘goat one’ over Nylander, and now you want to bail them out? who are you, Jesus the all-forgiving? the father of the prodigal son? the joke’s not on this poor kid, who has great character, but learned bad habits when he was a head taller than the other boys, and became a head-hunter, and now runs into D-men bigger than himself. the joke’s on vancouver’s anachronistic amateur management, and you want the joke to be on the Leafs, try again, next time more logical and relevant.

  • Harte of a Lion

    “was the only and final straw.” Could not disagree with this statement more. Virtanen came into the tournament with high hopes for himself to perform at the highest level in his home country. He also had high expectations to contribute to the Canadian team every second of every shift. The transition from the NHL to this tournament is astonishingly different. The size of the rink, the speed, and the skill involved do not compare. This tournament cannot be taken lightly and unfortunately for Virtanen, he was unable to find his game. I’m not going and making excuses for the kid- he played terrible, plain and simple. However, just because he had a rough go does not mean that the Canucks will give up on him just like that. He still remains one of their top prospects and I’m sure they would like to move past this tournament just as much as Jake would like to.

  • STAN

    I am a little perplexed by the trade scenario. You have a top six player in Bozak and you are prepared to send him along with a 3rd round pick to Vancouver for a guy you say would not crack the top six on a team that is thin up front. You need to tell me how this makes sense.

  • STAN

    Brilliant article! This has got to be the best #MyColumn that I have read for as long as I can remember. Love the perplexed comments these #MyColumns always seem to generate.