When the Canucks drafted Jake Virtanen over the more skilled players like Nik Ehlers and Willie Nylander, many people wondered if the Canucks had made a mistake. Were they simply pandering to the crowd of people crowing for a local boy to be drafted? Were they valuing a physical player over the better overall offensive game of others?
We won’t know the answer to those questions for a while, but what we do know is Jake Virtanen doesn’t mind murdering people when he’s on the ice. Case in point, in Tuesday’s game against the Seattle Thunderbirds, Jake Virtanen decided to brutalize 6″5 Jared Hauf into the benches:
(Shout out to
@adamforsythe for the link)
We’ve seen players like Gilbert Brule play very physical in the WHL, only to hit the brick wall of man strength in the NHL and have their careers thrown off the tracks. Jake Virtanen, however, just took out a 6’5″, 230+ player like it was nothing. This is the kind of physical play that will make this kid a hero in Vancouver. Many still remember the times Todd Bertuzzi made the area behind the net into his own personal basement of horrors, as he took out player after player with their head down. Or the time he took out Chris Chelios into the boards and it got a cheer louder than a goal being scored.
Of course, it would be doing a disservice to Virtanen to simply suggest he is just a physical player. The kid can snipe, as he also got a goal and an assist in the game against Seattle, and was also named the game’s first star. Again, who knows what the future will hold, and it could very well be that Ehlers or Nylander have a better overall career, but at the very least, the potential for an exciting, physical kid who can pick the corners should have Vancouver fans very excited.
Jake Virtanen on a line with Bo Horvat in the near future? That seems very very intriguing…