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)
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.”
“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.