According to a story by Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Sun the Vancouver Canucks’ new GM, Jim Benning, is very interested in Abbotsford hockey player Jake Virtanen. Virtanen plays for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League (WHL) which started as an expansion team in 1995-96.[excerpt]
He [Sam Reinhart], and Jake Virtanen, are two prospects who excite Vancouver, and both just happen to be local kids who grew up in the province where the Canucks have a reputation for missing player after player.[Jim] Benning used both as examples when talking about which prospects rated “excellent” in their NHL combine interviews.
Virtanen, who is from Abbotsford and scored 45 goals with the Calgary Hitmen this season, showed up for his interviews in a shoulder sling.
He had shoulder surgery 10 days ago and his recovery is expected to take four to six months. Many assumed this would impact his draft slot, long believed to be in the six to 10 range of the first round.
But that hasn’t happened.
In fact, the idea that Brian Burke and the Calgary Flames are considering taking him at the No. 4 spot is gaining traction.
That would be going off the board a little bit for the Flames, but if there’s one team executive expected to do something odd in the top four it’s Burke.
“The surgery went well and the doctor doesn’t think it’s going to hurt him in any way,” Benning said.
“I don’t think it will impact where he gets drafted. He’s going to fully recover.”[source]