The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed the last remaining restricted free agent on their roster.
The team announced on Friday that Jake Virtanen will return on a two-year contract, worth $1.25 million per season. It’s a small bump in pay for the Abbotsford native, who was coming off a $894,167 AAV entry-level deal.
“We’re pleased to sign Jake to an extension,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning. “He adds physical presence and speed to our lineup and can help create offensive chances when going hard to the net. We look forward to seeing Jake take the next step in his game and consistently contribute to the team’s success.”
Virtanen’s contract slots him in as the 10th-highest paid forward on the Canucks, not including Derek Dorsett, who was forced to retire. The deal comes on the heels of other RFA signings, including Sven Baertschi, Troy Stecher, and Markus Granlund.
After being drafted sixth overall in 2014, Virtanen has had a bit of a rocky start to his NHL career. He scored 13 points (7-6-13) in 55 games during his rookie season as a 19-year-old, but took a step back in his second year, playing primarily in Utica.
Virtanen played the best hockey of his young NHL career down the stretch last season, which is something he’ll be hoping to build off of. He scored a modest 20 points (10-10-20) in 2017-18, but did so with very little power play time.
Training this summer with stickhandling specialist and YouTube sensation Pavel Barber, Virtanen is looking to improve his point total. Next season is a big one for the young power forward, as he’ll be expected to take the next step as not only a physical everyday player, but a consistent scorer as well.