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Get to know a draft pick — Jake Virtanen

Jun 25, 2014, 5:32 PM EDT

Lethbridge Hurricanes v Calgary Hitmen Getty Images

Leading up to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Jake Virtanen (LW)

Height: 6’ Weight: 208 Shoots: Right

Team: Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Country: Canada/Finland

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 6 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

Teams looking for a power forward will likely consider Jake Virtanen among the top candidates, if not the premier power forward in this 2014 class.

He has the size and hands (45 goals in the WHL this past season) to fit the bill, yet it also appears that he has the wheels to separate himself when brute strength isn’t enough. He took the top marks for 30-meter backward (4.55 seconds) and forward (3.92) sprints at the CHL Top Prospects Game. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily the swiftest prospect out there, but it’s a strong indication that it’s an area of strength.

The prospect certainly doesn’t lack for confidence, either. He compared his game favorably to Rick Nash when asked by Yahoo’s Buzzing the Net:

“I kind of model myself after [the New York Rangers'] Rick Nash,” Virtanen said in March. “We’re kind of identical players. He likes to take the puck to the net. I think I’m a little more physical than that, I like to throw the body around.”

Quotable:

“It’s a copycat league, so L.A. wins the Stanley Cup again and the terminology is, ‘They’re heavy,'” Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray said. “So you’ve got guys like forwards [Nicholas] Ritchie and [Jake] Virtanen that are good players that are heavy. Teams are looking for heavy.”

“Jake is a great skater with a great shot and when he bears in on defenders, they are on their heels. He has an edge to his game and could be that ‘grand slam’ player all teams would love to get.” – TSN’s Craig Button.

For more 2014 NHL Draft previews, click here.

  1. avscup - Jun 25, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    He might consider using another comparison if he wants to get the most out of this draft. I’m just saying…

  2. garybrian - Jun 25, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    Would look great in a Maple Leaf uniform, if he’s still available.

  3. 19to77 - Jun 25, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    If he’s still on the board at sixth, the Canucks won’t pass him up. Local boy who’s also big, physical scoring winger? Too ideal a match to miss. Kid’s even a right-handed shot. There’s nothing he’s got that they DON’T want.

    • salmon90 - Jun 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM

      how about they choose the best player instead that will be available – Nylander or Ehlers. I’ve heard way too many warnings about Virtanen – stats propped up by overage linemates, doesn’t read play well etc. He’s more Raffi Torres than Jamie Benn if that’s what you’re thinking. If they want local trade up and get Reinhardt!!

  4. bullwinkle88 - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    I think this kid is really going to be a good one.

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