The Vancouver Canucks stole the show at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia after trading away Jason Garrison and Ryan Kesler before the draft even started.
After all the wheeling and dealing on Friday, the Canucks finally took the podium to select Jake Virtanen at 6th overall, and later selecting Jared McCann with the 24th overall pick that was acquired in the Ryan Kesler deal. Let’s take a look at the two prospects that have been added to the organization.
Team: Calgary (WHL)
Size: 6’1″, 210 lbs
2013-14 Stats: 71 GP – 45 G, 26 A, 71 Pts
Projection: First line power forward
Back in April, I thought that the Canucks would be selecting Jake Virtanen and that came true on Friday Evening, as the Canucks selected Jake Virtanen with their 6th overall pick. I was a bit surprised that the Canucks did select Virtanen with their pick, as Virtanen had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago and isn’t expected to be able to receive contact and practice until mid-October.
Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen, 17, becomes the first B.C.-born player the Canucks have drafted in the first round since Cam Neely in 1983.
Virtanen loves to battle for the puck, hit and compete. He is regarded as being a pure goal scorer after putting up 45 goals with the Calgary Hitmen. He then won the bronze medal at the U18 World Championship team. Virtanen was also the fastest skater in both forwards and backwards skating at the CHL top prospects skills competition. Given all this, Virtanen has the speed, compete level and shot to eventually make the NHL, but without a doubt, will be sent back to the WHL for another year to recover from his injury and to round out his game.
Unfortunately the Calgary Hitmen do not visit the Vancouver Giants during the regular season, so local fans will be unable to see Virtanen live this year. But everyone should keep an eye on Virtanen this season as he should be a huge part of the Canucks future.
Drafted: 24th overall
Team: Sault St Marie (WHL)
Size: 6’0″, 174 lbs
2013-14 Stats: 64 GP – 27 G, 35 A, 62 Pts
Projection: 2nd/3rd line two way centre
With the pick acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in the Ryan Kesler trade, the Vancouver Canucks selected Jared McCann. McCann was expected to be selected in the 15-20 range, but ultimately fell to 24th where the Canucks selected him. Once drafted by Vancouver, McCann sat down with TSN’s James Duthie, and dropped a very interesting comment:
The ‘it is what it is’ quote is likely due to McCann expecting to be drafted earlier, and not a reflection on being selected by Vancouver. So lets just give the kid a break!
McCann is regarded as the safe pick, as he does have a skill set that will likely translate to the NHL, but by taking the safe pick, the Canucks passed on players (Ho-Sang and Kempe.) who are more offensively skilled. McCann does have good on ice vision, puck handling skills and good offensive instincts. Also regarded as the ‘jack of all trades’ type of prospect, so as I said before, will likely be able to work his way up to the NHL in a few years, while if the Canucks went with the riskier, more skilled player, then that player may never have been able to ‘put it all together’.
I do think the McCann does have the skills to exceed expectations and turn into a top 6 forward, so this may turn out to be a very shrewd pick by GM Jim Benning.
For Virtanen and McCann this is one of the biggest days of their lives, and both will look to become big parts of the future for the Canucks. Both picks make sense to me as both players have skill sets that will allow them to be NHL players in a few years.