2014 NHL Draft Profile #11: Jake Virtanen
Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2014 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2014 Draft Articles Click here.
Jake Virtanen was the first overall pick in the 2011 WHL Draft. At 16 he had a decent season for the Hitmen with 34 points in 62 games. This season he really came on with 45 goals and 71 points in 71 games, and helping the Hitmen to a second place finish in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Unfortunately the team was upset in six games to the Kootenay Ice in the first round of the playoffs. Virtanen really0 began to show his promise on the international stage with a very impressive performance at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2013 when he scored 5 goals in 5 games for Team Pacific. He also won a gold medal last summer at the Ivan Hlinka tournament representing Team Canada. Virtanen should be a part of Canada’s U18 team for the World Championships coming up next week in Finland.
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born Aug 17 1996 — Abbotsford, BC
Height 6.01 — Weight 210 [185 cm/95 kg]
Jake Virtanen is a power forward prospect who never hesitates to get involved physically. He loves to hit, and be involved in battles along the boards. Virtanen takes the puck to the net at every opportunity. He has the creative stickhandling and good agility to beat a defender with slick moves, but is also willing to go right through them if necessary to get to the net. Virtanen is a pure goal scorer who can score in tight with soft hands, and also has an excellent shot with big time power, great accuracy and a tremendously quick release that fools goaltenders. Virtanen has taken his game to another level of late, and has shown flashes of true dominance in the WHL. He also has good hockey sense and the ability to get open and elude defenders. Virtanen is more of a goal scorer than a playmaker, but he does have decent passing skills and vision as well.
An outstanding skater, with impressive speed on the wing, Virtanen has the ability to take a defender wide before cutting back to the net. He was the fastest skater at the CHL top prospects game skills competition in both forwards and backwards skating. He has great acceleration, and his long and powerful stride gives him good balance and allows him to fight through hooks, holds, and other checks.
Virtanen has decent defensive skills, he back checks hard, and is willing to be physical in all three zones. He is also willing to block shots and generally do whatever is necessary to help his team win games. He could stand to improve on his discipline though, as he can sometimes get out of position as he is looking for the big hit. Virtanen is not afraid to drop the gloves and is a good fighter. He is willing to defend teammates, or himself, against all comers.
In terms of style, Virtanen is reminiscent of Jarome Iginla in his prime. This isn’t to say he has that level of talent, just that the style is similar. In terms of potential, the sky is the limit. If developed properly, Jake Virtanen has the skills necessary to be a top six power forward at the NHL level. He’s the total package, and the combination of size, skill, and speed is extremely intriguing.
Here are some highlights of Jake Virtanen:
Check back tomorrow for my #12 ranked prospect.
Interested in writing for LWOS? We are looking for enthusiastic, talented writers to join our Hockey writing team. Visit our “Write for Us” page for very easy details in how you can get started today!