This seems like a recurring theme with the Canucks. With Cody Hodgson, it was the promise of a potential future captain, a top line pivot and the ability to control a game himself. Trading Hodgson for Zack Kassian after “the run” was reactionary to get bigger and tougher. It never really happened and unfortunately, Zack needed to change some things too. Jake Virtanen is drafted as a complementary scoring winger that can hit and drive play.
He has one hit to his name that’s even worth talking about, the goals are missing and most nights, so is he. Is Jake Virtanen really any different than the past versions of “hope” in Vancouver?
Jake Virtanen was sent down to Utica on Wednesday on a two-game assignment, apparently, that will solve everything. Through 10 games this season, Virtanen has 1 assist and 13 shots, hardly even worth mentioning, even on THIS Canucks team. His deployment hasn’t exactly been ideal but then again what really is the best situation for Jake?
There were plenty of signs last year that Jake wasn’t exactly in a position to excel in the NHL after the Canucks kept him up on the big club. He struggled at times and didn’t really use his size to his advantage. Maybe he just needs to bulk up and focus on what made him worth taking 6th overall in 2014. Or, maybe he should focus on being an everyday NHLer and work his butt off like everyone else.
Virtanen has had it pretty good since arriving in Vancouver. He’s a Bieber bud, he’s the face of Twitter (ok he was just a guest but still) and if he ever DOES get his power forward game in check, he will be a whole lot more. Canucks fans have longed for an aggressor since the days of Todd Bertuzzi and that role has never been filled after he left.
Zack Kassian was supposed to be that guy, he was supposed to be the next Milan Lucic (kinda ironic, hey?) but Kassian just wasn’t the right guy for that role. He is a physical player with really soft hands but knowing what we know about Kass, he isn’t exactly Milan Lucic.
Before Kassian, it was Cody Hodgson that was supposed to be the next skilled star to carry the Canucks and maybe stick up for himself a bit too. To be fair, I don’t think that was the Canucks’ intent on getting Cody, he was a skilled and was going to be a goal scorer. Unfortunately, injuries, misdiagnoses, and a meddling dad pretty much ripped those dreams apart.
The Canucks have always looked for a talented forward that could stick up for his teammates as well as score big goals and drive the wing. They’ve had bangers like Raffi Torres, Maxim Lapierre and I guess Anson Carter but aside from Todd Bertuzzi and I can’t really say before my time but Stan Smyl and Harold Snepts (guessing here), it’s always been a need in Vancouver.
Can Virtanen be the player the Canucks and their fans want him to be or have they missed the mark yet again when they could have had, you know what, I’m not going there; he was the guy they wanted and that’s that.
I do remember that pick and from everything I had heard, he wasn’t exactly a game breaker but man could he hit! He does offer a lot if he can get things going and it may take a few years to become the Bertuzzi heir-apparent. What Jake needs is to keep his eyes on the prize; this team is so young and he has a real opportunity to be a difference maker for years.
It wouldn’t be the worst thing to see Jake build himself up in Utica for a few months and make him earn that spot in Vancouver. It’s not going anywhere, that can be assured. Willie Desjardins might not even be the Canucks coach the next time Virtanen plays with the orca on his chest so maybe it’s just the coach, who knows?
We all remember the “murders” by Jake, and no that isn’t a play on that alt rock/boy band, so we know what’s there. Does he, though, does he know what we know?
Check me out on twitter: @always90four