Jake Virtanen and Brock Boeser are the Vancouver Canucks’ future, but fans might not see nearly as much of them as they’d like this season.
Per the Vancouver Province:
Green has already acknowledged that in a tough division and conference and with a brutal travel schedule, Virtanen and Boeser may only play between 50-60 games. They need to get acclimated to the grind of the NHL season, something Dorsett knows all about.
That was in the context of a much longer piece about Derek Dorsett that you should check out, but it’s also worth discussing Boeser and Virtanen’s role specifically, especially after Boeser spent the opener as a healthy scratch while Virtanen dressed, but logged just 7:34 minutes of ice time.
The rationale of limiting Boeser’s role as he gets used to the NHL grind makes some degree of sense. He played in just 32 games with the University of North Dakota followed by a nine-game trial with the Canucks last season so if he became an everyday player in the NHL right now he might hit a wall at some point. That argument is less applicable to Virtanen though, given that he played in 55 NHL contests in 2015-16 and logged 75 games (10 in the NHL, 65 in the AHL) last season.
At the same time, there have been bumps in the road when it comes to Virtanen’s development and that might limit his ice time as much as anything else.
Of course these kind of projections should be taken with a grain of salt. The season has barely gotten underway and we might end up seeing Virtanen and Boeser push themselves into regular roles in short order. At the other end of the spectrum, they might see so little playing time that one or both of them end up being sent to the minors, which would lead to that 50-60 game projection actually being too high.
In either scenario, the important thing for Vancouver is how the duo performs in the years to come. The Canucks have to hope that whatever philosophy they decide to take with them pays off when it comes to their development.