The Vancouver Canucks have had problems with forward, Jake Virtanen since he entered the organization. The 24-year-old has provided good depth scoring for the team, but his off-ice antics have been too much. In his latest questionable decision, Virtanen was seen at a club on July 1. The team was in the middle of training camp, while the world was in the middle of a global pandemic. Canucks head coach Travis Green decided to sit him for Game 1 of the qualifying round against the Minnesota Wild. Virtanen ended up seeing action in Game 2 after injuries to Tyler Toffoli and Adam Gaudette, but it was clear the organization was done with Virtanen. A trade is inevitable, but there is uncertainty about where Jake Virtanen will end up next season.
The Teams That Best Fit Virtanen
The Nashville Predators seem like the most obvious. The Predators have already been a team rumored to trade for Virtanen as they are in desperate need of depth scoring. Then one of Preds’ best bottom six players in Craig Smith is an unrestricted free agent, as well as Mikael Granlund. The Predators will be trying to replace the 35 goals and 26 assists that they combined for in a shortened season. Virtanen had 18 goals and 18 assists during the season, so he definitely fits the criteria to replace one.
Virtanen also just needs a fresh start. He doesn’t have a ton of support from the Vancouver front office, so a change of scenery is needed. Virtanen could become a featured player in Nashville as he would have a shot at getting top-six minutes. Nashville also ranked 16th in goals per game, so an 18-g oal scorer would definitely be a huge help. Nashville has other areas that they need to improve in, but Virtanen could be a good piece in the long run to help the Predators in a Stanley Cup run.
Despite their performance in the playoffs, it was evident throughout the season the Montreal Canadiens were too reliant on their top six. There’s a chance that the Canadiens are going to move some pieces around this offseason. They’ve already traded for Jake Allen and Joel Edmundson and there’s a couple of guys on their way out. The rumored players to be traded on the Canadiens are Max Domi, Phillip Danault, and Victor Mete.
Mete seems like a really good trade candidate for the Canucks. Vancouver is a team in need of defende as they allowed the third-most shots against per game in 2019–20. Mete is only 22, so the Canucks would be getting a younger player which is ideal for the organization. Just like in Nashville, Virtanen would probably have the chance to be an impact player. He’d definitely have the chance of moving into the top six, especially if Montreal traded Domi or Danault. The Canucks maybe would have to add a couple of late-round picks, but this would help both teams improve.
The Edmonton Oilers are a team that needs depth. However, the question for them would be more what they would give up. Their defence was really bad against the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs, so giving up a defenceman and trying to re-tool in that area wouldn’t be a horrible idea. For Virtanen, this is a good fit, but not better than the Predators or Canadiens. He would most certainly be a bottom-six forward for the Oilers.
The upside of Virtanen joining the Oilers would be he is joining an already elite forward group. The Oilers have plenty of scoring and Virtanen could possibly contribute the most their. Even if he is in the bottom=-six forward group, the defence’s focus will not be on containing Virtanen. The Oilers are also a team trying to win right now. The Canucks still have a couple of years until they are true contenders. For Jake Virtanen, joining a team that is immediately contenders could definitely have a positive impact on his behavior next season.