Former Canucks winger Jake Virtanen suiting up for Oilers in preseason

Sep 19 2022, 4:46 pm

The Edmonton Oilers have added a pair of players to their preseason roster.

Winger Jake Virtanen and defenceman Jason Demers are headed to Edmonton for training camp, after signing pro tryout contracts with the Oilers today.

Virtanen, now 26, is a former first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks. He hasn’t played an NHL game since being placed on leave by the Canucks on May 1, 2021, after accusations of sexual misconduct first became public. The Canucks bought him out of the last year of his contract in the summer of 2021.

Virtanen was later charged with sexual assault, with a jury ruling him not guilty in July.

The Abbotsford product played last season in the KHL, scoring 16 points (9-7-16) in 36 games for Moscow Spartak. His last NHL season saw the 6-foot, 210-pound winger score five goals and no assists for the Canucks in 2020-21. That followed a career-best season for Virtanen in 2019-20, when he scored 36 points (18-18-36) in 69 games.

The Oilers are scheduled to play the Canucks twice in the preseason, in Edmonton on October 3 and in Virtanen’s hometown of Abbotsford on October 5.

Also headed to Edmonton is Jason Demers, a 34-year-old right-shot defenceman that split last season with Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL, and with Team Canada in the Winter Olympics.

Demers also hasn’t played in the NHL since 2020-21, when he notched no goals and four assists in 41 games with the Arizona Coyotes. He has 699 games of NHL experience with the Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, and San Jose Sharks.

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