Canucks decision time: Virtanen & McCann make the team

Dec 19 2017, 6:16 pm

Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann have earned a full-time spot with the Canucks and will not be heading back to junior this year. The team made it official in a video meeting this morning, in similar fashion to how they told Bo Horvat that he was going to be sticking around last year.

This year Horvat got in on the fun:

McCann has played 9 games, while Virtanen has appeared in 8, so decision time was looming for the Canucks. Once either player plays 10 games, the first year of their cap-friendly entry-level contract begins to count. Vancouver had the option of sending either 19-year-old back to junior, and head coach Willie Desjardins successfully scared the dickens out of both kids this morning.

First, McCann:

And Virtanen:

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t in on the joke, apparently:

The challenge for Jared McCann will be to endure the physical challenges of playing centre in the NHL game-in, game-out. He isn’t as physically mature as Horvat was last season, so this will need to be monitored by the coaching staff.

Size and strength isn’t a problem for Jake Virtanen, that much is certain. The issue for Virtanen is his play with the puck, making plays at top speed.

Regardless, this is the right decision by the organization, as both players have earned their spot on the roster. The pair of 2014 first round picks have been too dynamic, too noticeable and too effective, not to keep.

With 5 goals in 9 games, McCann actually leads the team in goals despite playing on the 4th line and not receiving power play time.

Virtanen has 2 assists in 8 games and has been a physical force. He leads the team in hits, including many of the bone-crushing variety. Virtanen doesn’t have a goal yet, but he has had chances.

The play of McCann and Virtanen has been a pleasant surprise this season. Everyone knew both players had bright futures, but it appears that future is a little closer than could have been expected.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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