Jake Virtanen is going to get a taste of the AHL after all.
The Vancouver Canucks announced that the former first round pick has been sent to the Utica Comets on a conditioning stint.
Virtanen, who has missed the past four games with a hip pointer, should benefit from some time in the minors. He is averaging less than 10 minutes of ice time per game with the Canucks this season, scoring just 4 points (1-3-4) in 19 games.
VAN plan for Jake Virtanen conditioning stint in Utica is to get in two practices and two games through the weekend.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 9, 2015
Still just 19-years-old, Virtanen is ineligible to play in the AHL, with the exception of a two week conditioning stint.
Bo Horvat had a similar stint with the Comets last season, appearing in 5 AHL games after he was injured during preseason with the Canucks.
Shortly after his tour of upstate New York, Canucks management will need to make a decision regarding Virtanen, and fellow 19-year-old Jared McCann, with regards to their participation in the World Junior Championships. Canada plays their first game in Finland against the United States on Boxing Day.
It seems unlikely that McCann will get sent to the World Juniors, given his production (6-3-9) and his role as one of the team’s top four centres, though it could be beneficial for Virtanen. The Canucks have a few wingers with the Comets that could step up in Virtanen’s absence.