Canucks Draft Jake Virtanen 6th Overall


With the 6th overall selection, the Vancouver Canucks have selected Abbotsford native Jake Virtanen. Read past the jump for some quick thoughts and analysis.

You all know my thoughts on Jake Virtanen. If we’re lucky and everything works out perfectly, he might be Jeff Carter. On the other hand, he’s just as likely to be Kyle Beach. Instead, he most likely projects as a third line/low-end second line forward similar to Mikkel Boedker or Devin Setoguchi.

Working in Virtanen’s favour is his exceptional tool set. He skates fast, has a hard shot, is very physical and plays with an edge. He’s also one of the younger prospects, but may have already filled out his 6’1, 208-lb frame.

We’ve posted this table before, but here are Virtanen’s closest comparable players in terms of 17-year old scoring since the 2003 NHL entry draft:

virtanen comps

Nikolaj Ehlers meanwhile compared most closely to Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Huberdeau. I can’t help but think that this is a very poor bet for the Canucks to make. It’s relatively high-risk and relatively low-reward, and there were far better players available at 6th overall. We can only hope that Virtanen can defy the odds and live up to what the Canucks think of him. I’m sure we’ll have more on Virtanen and the rest of Vancouver’s draft in the coming days.

There’s not a lot of good reasons to trust their judgement though.

    • Spiel

      Umberger – Consistent 20 goal guy throughout his career. Will finish with 800-1000 games played.

      Grabner – Established himself as an NHL regular. Long career still ahead.

      Hodgson – Looks to be a top 6 forward with a long career.

      Bourdon – was on track to be an NHL defence regular, anywhere in the top 4 depending on development.

      Horvat and Virtanen are obviously too soon to tell.

      So, basically they have not missed on a pick in the top 20 since 1999. Not bad.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    I’m not stoked on today, I’m not stoked at all. We lost a #2 Centre, and a #4 D and we got a #3 C and a #5 D and we probably drafted a third liner with wheels… at 6th overall! Ugh, some days its harder being a canuck fan than others… draft day always disappoints me!

    • acg5151

      If this is our future 3rd line, then call me tickled pink as I can only imagine how good our Top 2 lines will be. My fear is actually that this is our future 1st line…

      * FWIW I’m okay with Virtanen (best pure sniper in thus draft IMHO… What a shot!)

          • andyg

            And those obviously grow on trees… In any case, the insiders all state empathically that all bets are off after the Big 4 are off the board. It’s all a crapshoot the rest of the 1st round, with each player having their own warts to go with all the promise and potential. Your guess is as good as mine which of these kids turns out to be stars and which ones will flame out. FWIW Virtanen’s highlight package was one of the few that actually got my attention…

          • andyg

            I don’t dispute the upside at all.

            He is very young and toolsy.

            In fantasyland where the Canucks acquired #10 from Anaheim, Virtanen would have been fine.

            I’m crossing my fingers that a year from now he takes the step forward that we desperately need him to take…

          • DNF

            This is where the development process will play a majorly significant role as to the type of player we will see. Virtanen’s chances of reaching his full potential will depend on his ability to continue to improve on his strengths, his willingness to clean up certain deficiencies, and the coaches’ (both developmental and NHL) desire/plan for him to become a top offensive player (eg. Jeff Carter as Rhys mentioned).
            If the development philosophy is to simply have him become as good as he can defensively (without continuing to emphasize and develop his advantages as a skater and shooter), then all we’re getting, as many others have lamented, is a likely 3rd liner (more along the lines of a Jason Chimera).

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      Good news: You can get down off the ledge (for now).

      It looks like the actual #thirdlineofthefuture may be more like Virtanen-McCann-Kassian.

      Actually, scratch that.

      It may look more like Virtanen-McCann-Matthias…they’ll need Kassian for the #secondlineofthefuture centered by, uh, Horvat…no wait, Bonino…er…

      Is it just me, or is this roster starting to look problematic? Well that’s OK. I have a backup plan.

      No one try and stop me! I’m gonna jump, too!

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    I like ehlers, but different league in the Q and easier to put up points. TO many other variables go into this to condemn the pick right now.

  • EugeneV

    Also bob mckenzie’s list which i find generally pretty good (still upset he said we should take saad over jensen) pretty much agrees with the pick. Not always right, but he has a good track record.

    Am excited to give jake a chance here.

  • EugeneV


    Well, trying to find a bright side, we know that at least JB-TL wanted to get Reinhart, which was the right thing. And Virtanen might just be the next Zack Kass–

    Oh well. We could have the best third line in the league.

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      Was it the right thing, though?

      Or did bad process (overvaluing BC boys) just end up at the correct outcome (trying to go for Reinhart)?

      Mind you, it’s just one selection.

      And a year from now (fingers crossed) maybe Virtanen justifies his draft spot.

      He is really young after all.

      I’ll wait for a few more transactions before getting on the #firelinden bandwagon…

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    Ehlers or Nylander were clear-cut better options, even from an armchair GM perspective. I hope that this isn’t a political play on Benning’s behalf in an attempt to win over the average local fan by drafting that local boy, that power forward, who plays with grit/heartensity/truculence yadda yadda yadda to avenge the ghost of Cam Neely’s career.

    Even if Virtanen does develop into the next Cam Neely – which is a big if – we all know how many cups Neely lifted as a player in either Vancouver or Boston. Furthermore, I think if you were to look at his/Milan Lucic’s stats and compare their number of game-winning goals to Steven Stamkos’ current stats and what his career is on target for, I don’t think anyone would suddenly care as much about big body, power forwards.

  • Spiel

    Wow, sad day to be a Canucks fan. Virtanen would have been a great pick at 24 or in the 2nd round.

    Even sadder, the Oilers, Flames, Leafs and Jets all made astute choices. We are now the dumbest franchise in Canada!

    We’ve had a bad draft record for a decade, but on a can’t miss choice at 6 we replay the Horvat pick choosing a lesser talent.

    For Canucks fans, the future is never!

    So disappointing.

  • andyg

    Nylander – The next Nicklas Backstrom – I wouldn’t even want the first Nicklas Backstrom. Struggled to put up points in the Allsvenskan. Pure offense, no defense.

    Ehlers – plays in a soft league against defenders that weren’t good enough to handle Drouin, is very small.

    Virtanen – Big, tough, laser of a shot, one of the fastest if not the fastest guy in the draft, played with overagers on his line and didn’t get a lot of assists.

    is it really that much of a stretch to have taken Virtanen?

  • acg5151

    Virtanen is not who I would have chosen but I can see why he was taken. I would have preferred Nylander but I am not going to cry about Virtanen because he is still a solid prospect.

  • EugeneV

    Pile of nobodies here beaking off. 18yr olds r not NHL ready very often. Luv the whiners with no balls with no good input. Quote ur stats n go lose ur hockey pool. Nothing but the typical morons that give real objective Canuck fans a bad name. See u nay Sayers back here when proved wrong. Neely was lost due to ppl back in day spewing the same garbage. Could it be those were ur parents from the Pacific Mausoleum days?

  • EugeneV

    To those of us here with an open mind will be rewarded just fine. Moving Kesler is fine n Anaheim might see what he is truly about… Selfish. Player movement was inevitable to create spaces for true competition to make the team. The sky is not falling down simply a new era dawns n a lil time for chemistry to occur n all will be good. Patience n trust r keys not armchair noobs opinions. The cupboard is no longer bare.