April 27 2014 11:25AM
Jake Virtanen scored 45 goals in the WHL this season, an outstanding total for a draft eligible forward. His combination of size, speed and skill makes him an attractive prospect and he's likely to be taken inside the top 10 overall.
Jake Virtanen is a right-handed left winger. He’s 6.01, 210 and a very late (Aug) 1996 birthday. He’s from Abbotsford, which is spitting distance from Nuge’s hometown of Burnaby. Virtanen is a fast train and a first shot scorer, and the youngster has some edge to his game. You know I’m a fan of “complete” players, and Virtanen checks off almost everything on the list—he is not (from what I’ve seen and read) a highly creative player. That aside, he's golden. Virtanen can take and make a pass, and play with skill, the best part being his ability to score goals at even strength posted his offense in 2013-14 as follows:
- EVENS: 71GP, 33-19-52
- POWER PLAY: 71GP, 10-7-17
- PENALTY KILL: 71GP, 2-0-2
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING....
Red Line Report: Loaded with some of the best overall physical tools in this year's draft.
- Calgary Hitmen coach Mike Williamson: "Jake's had a lot of attention for a lot of years so it's very important that he tempers those a little bit in two ways," Williamson said. "One, that he doesn't let the pressure get to him and two, he doesn't get carried away with himself and I think he does a good job of balancing that. He has to make sure he has to work hard and that he's a good teammate. Those are the things he's focusing on."
- Scouting Report via Future Considerations: Virtanen is a heads-up player who thinks the game well and is willing to get his nose dirty. He has slick hands, a dynamic shot and a strong stride that makes him dangerous. He can be outright dominant at times offensively with his blend of size, skill and speed.
- Craig Button: Jake has undeniable skill. Excellent skater who has speed, quickness and power. Can beat defenders with his skating and when he gets an advantage, his size makes it almost impossible for a defender to get back on equal footing. Very strong shot and can beat goaltenders from out but also has the quickness in his hands to score in tight. Has the potential to be a dynamic scoring winger.
- The Hockey News: Is a natural scorer with soft hands and an excellent skating stride. Also boasts very good size for the wing position in the NHL. Is effective on either side of center. Must alleviate his reputation for taking a few shifts off if he is to become a quality scoring winger at the highest level. So, consistency is his biggest challenge.
There are two NHLE's worth paying attention to these days, the original Desjardins and Rob Vollman's that appeared in his Hockey Abstract last summer. They have similar views of Virtanen:
- Desjardins: 82GP, 16-9-25
- Vollman: 82GP, 14-7-21
IS HE AN OPTION FOR THE OILERS?
No. The Oilers drafted wingers in the first round in 2008 (Eberle), 2009 (Paajarvi), 2010 (Hall) and 2012 (Yakupov). This year's draft pick, third overall, will be spent on a center or defenseman—or be dealt away for immediate help at those two positions.