Canucks send Virtanen to play for Canada at World Junior Championship

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Jake Virtanen will represent Canada at the World Junior Championship this year, the Canucks announced today.

Virtanen has had some nice moments with the Canucks this season, but ultimately he is low on the depth chart and has found difficulty getting ice time from head coach Willie Desjardins.

Playing in the World Junior Championship is often a great experience for players, and I think Virtanen will benefit from this decision, despite the fact he has already played in the tournament.

Virtanen needs to play, and he needs to produce offensively. He is a player that is being groomed to be an offensive force, not just a physical force. The 6th overall pick in 2014 Draft has the physical tools to play in the NHL, in terms of strength and speed, but he could use some more time with the puck.

Virtanen appeared 19 games with Vancouver, scoring 1 goal and 3 assists, averaging less than 10 minutes of ice time per game. With Team Canada, he will likely play on the first line and get a lot of power play time.

After the World Junior tournament, Virtanen can rejoin the Canucks, or can be sent back to junior. Jared McCann is also eligible to be loaned to Team Canada, but he is unlikely to get the call, given his importance in the Canucks lineup right now.

The World Juniors take place in Helsinki, Finland this year. Canada begins the tournament against the United States on Boxing Day.

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Rob Williams Sports Editor at Vancity Buzz covering all sports in Vancouver.
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