With the acquisition of JT Miller in the course of the 2019 NHL Draft, the Vancouver Canucks added some much-needed offense to the highest six. A couple of days later, normal supervisor Jim Benning turned to the protection and added Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn, and Oscar Fantenberg. All these additions undoubtedly made the Canucks a extra formidable group for subsequent season. Nonetheless, additionally they created a log jam within the lineup. In consequence, Benning will likely be trying to transfer contracts out within the coming months to make room for them on the roster. With that in thoughts, let’s take a look at two Canucks that shouldn’t be part of that exodus.
From the minute Jake Virtanen was chosen sixth total within the 2014 draft, expectations have been sky excessive. He was not solely a prime prospect projected to be chosen early, however he was additionally a house city boy from close by Abbotsford. Speak about strain. Since that day, Virtanen has gone from a prime prospect with a great deal of potential, to a reclamation challenge. Taking part in his first season within the NHL at 18 years outdated, he posted 13 factors (7 objectives, 6 assists) in 55 video games. Not a foul rookie season by any means, however undoubtedly not extraordinary.
Within the 2016-17 season, he solely noticed ten video games with the large membership earlier than being despatched all the way down to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League. Accidents got here and went and Virtanen by no means noticed the within of the Canucks dressing room. What he did was work tirelessly with then-Comets head coach Travis Inexperienced to enhance his recreation to a degree the place he can be welcomed again into Rogers Area. Thankfully for Virtanen, Inexperienced was promoted to go coach of the mother or father membership the next season and the AHL grew to become a distant reminiscence for the Abbotsford native.
Jake Virtanen (Invoice Streicher-USA TODAY Sports activities)
Two seasons have passed by and Virtanen continues to enhance, however he nonetheless struggles with inconsistencies in his recreation. Because the starting of the 2017-18 season, he has posted 45 factors (25 objectives, 20 assists) in 145 video games. Taunting followers with extraordinary talent and pace, as soon as even outskating the uber-talented Connor McDavid.
Virtanen has proven the potential to be an elite energy ahead within the NHL, mixing his explosive pace with intense bodily play. Nonetheless, there are nonetheless stretches the place he’s not noticeable and Inexperienced has to reiterate the significance of the little issues in his recreation like protection and onerous work.
Regardless of the frustrations together with his lack of consistency, Virtanen has turn out to be a fan favourite in Vancouver. A Twitter hashtag was even created about him following the daring prediction by Jason Brough and Mike Halford that he would rating 20 objectives within the 2018-19 season. They promised that they’d shotgun a beer each time Virtanen scored a objective that season. The ritual caught on and shortly there have been loads of Canucks followers shotgunning beers and posting the video with the hashtag “shotgunjake.” He fell 5 objectives in need of the prediction, however a brand new ritual was born and extra beer will likely be consumed because of it.
I hope followers are given the possibility to proceed the ritual this coming season, as Virtanen’s title has made the rounds within the rumor mill. I hope I’m not alone in saying that the Canucks shouldn’t hand over on him simply but. The truth that his title surfaced in a bundle for Tyson Barrie is telling us one thing. Virtanen has worth. Nonetheless, I don’t suppose Benning ought to make the most of it.
Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks, Nov. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
He’s coming into the prime years of his profession and will likely be a key a part of the thrilling core the Canucks are constructing, and as such, needs to be preaching endurance with the soon-to-be 23 years outdated ahead. Don’t alter your display screen, you learn that appropriately, he’s solely 23. One of the best is but to come back from Virtanen, and it might’t be in one other uniform.
Ever since Matthew Tkachuk grew to become an affect participant within the NHL, Canucks followers have rued the day Benning chosen Olli Juolevi over him in 2016 Draft. Tkachuk has gone on to play three seasons with the Calgary Flames posting 174 factors (71 objectives, 103 assists) in 224 video games, whereas Juolevi has but to play an NHL recreation. Moreover, analysts and followers alike have pointed to fellow defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Charlie McAvoy as misses as they’ve additionally turn out to be affect defensemen for his or her NHL groups.
Juolevi has traveled a unique street than most of his draft cohorts. Up to now three seasons, he has performed in three totally different leagues, the Ontario Hockey League, the SM-liiga and the AHL and has had main surgical procedures on his again and most just lately his knee. Surgical procedures require rehab time, which interprets to much less time on the ice and within the weight room, which makes it tough to blaze a path to the NHL.
Olli Juolevi (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports activities)
Regardless of the profession setbacks and success of the gamers chosen after him, I nonetheless imagine the Canucks have to be affected person with the Finnish rearguard and let him develop. He could not turn out to be an elite prime pairing defenseman, however he will likely be a strong top-four possibility in his prime able to operating an influence play and effectively transferring the puck out of the defensive zone.
With all of the protection acquisitions and potential of Jett Woo and Quinn Hughes, Juolevi has turn out to be considerably of a forgotten man. That is why he could possibly be one of many our bodies shipped out in a possible deal to amass extra assist in the highest six. Nonetheless, I believe he ought to nonetheless be given an opportunity to develop within the AHL and make extra progress within the pursuit of changing into a top-four defenseman within the NHL. In actual fact, he must be within the dialog as one of many key items of the protection core within the subsequent period, not a bit to be bartered with on the commerce market.
Virtanen and Juolevi are each younger gamers with a great deal of potential, regardless of the setbacks they’ve skilled up to now. The Canucks can be sensible to remain affected person and watch them become core items on the group. The very last thing followers and administration need to see is them turn out to be affect gamers in one other metropolis for one more fan base.