Vancouver Canucks WJC Update: Jake Virtanen to World Juniors, and More


It is official, Vancouver Canucks fans. You now have a reason to watch the World Junior Championships, with right winger Jake Virtanen playing for Team Canada.

The Vancouver Canucks will send Jake Virtanen to Team Canada’s World Junior Championship team.

This was expected by most, as the rookie right winger is out of the Canucks lineup on an AHL conditioning stint. GM Jim Benning’s reasoning seems to be on the same page as ours.

Jake Virtanen has just a single goal and a trio of assists in his 19 games as a Vancouver Canuck. This move comes as an opportunity for Virtanen to get into a scoring top-six role, as well as a leadership role with Team Canada. It seems like the right move at this time.

Related Story: Why Jake Virtanen Should Go to the WJC

According to ESPN, Jake Virtanen ranks fourth among all NHL rookies in hits. But being drafted sixth overall, Virtanen needs to start scoring with the hard shot of his.

As opposed to reports from Sportsnet’s Irfaan Gaffar., the verdict has yet to come on Jared McCann‘s fate, whether he will join his teammate Virtanen on the trip to the WJC.

At this point of the season and given where the Canucks are, I would not mind loaning McCann off to Team Canada. But besides just letting him play top-six minutes and getting his confidence up, there is something else that would make the loss of McCann win for the Canucks. Linden Vey.

Linden Vey’s time might be Done in Vancouver

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Top choice for a call-up to replace Jared McCann would be none other than our good ol’ Linden Vey.

The centre-winger hybrid is on the last year of his contract, and after clearing waivers down to Utica at the start of the season, his value is as low as it has ever been. With two goals and 11 assists in 24 games with the Utica Comets, the former L.A. King’s time in Vancouver might be just about over.

Here are two reasons why Vey should get called up, despite his struggles in the “A”.

Give him a last chance

At 24 years of age, Vey is not too old to still qualify as a prospect — at least in Canuck-land. At this point, he will likely slip out as a free agent over the summer, or might stick around as a meaningless AHL-er on a relatively minor contract.

But if he gives you something nice in the NHL while on his call-up, why not keep him around the AHL in hopes of developing a depth forward? At least he can give you production at both wings and down the middle.

Increase his Trade Value

Maybe being a bit cynical with the regime, but this might be the better way to go. Trading Linden Vey is a great way to free up the log-jam down the middle for the Canucks. You got a Henrik Sedin, a Brandon Sutter, and a Bo Horvat who are set to be the top-three centres in the market. After that is Jared McCann, who could play a scoring winger with the middle six, or centre the fourth line if needs be.

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But behind McCann, you got another do-it-all centre/winger in Brendan Gaunce. Then there is Cole Cassels, the great “McDavid slayer”. Dmitry Zhukenov is doing great in the juniors. There is simply no more space for a scoring bottom-six centre in the Canucks organization — which translates to no room for Vey. Vancouver acquired him at the expense of Jason Garrison. It might be tough for the Benning regime to swallow the outcome now, but they have to at least salvage a mid-round pick in return for Vey if that is even possible. After all, he did get passed through the waivers.

When it is all said and done, Vey has a last slimmer of hope by playing in McCann’s place. It is a gamble worth going for if you are the Canucks. Send McCann to Team Canada and let Vey play himself into a trade. Hopefully.

Anyhow, the Canucks also have all the right reasons to keep McCann on this side of the pond. I am merely suggesting the flip side of the equation.

Next: Canucks blessed with the Perfect Sequence of Injuries

With this, Virtanen is off to the WJC. Definitely keep an eye on #18 in the red and white as he tries to level some 6-foot-5, 225-pound giants and score some scorer’s beauties. And please — don’t get injured.

Would you loan Jared McCann to Team Canada? Let us know in the comments!