Vancouver Canucks: Perfecting the Youth Movement in 2016

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Vancouver Canucks
Nov 21, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen (18) against Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena. Vancouver won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 2: Perfecting the Development of Jake Virtanen

Jake Virtanen is the product of the highest draft pick the Vancouver Canucks has had since drafting the Sedins, thanks to the Lost Season under John Tortorella. Here is his outlook after a disappointing show at the 2016 World Junior Championship.

Virtanen’s Keyword: Pride

Hey. He is a sixth-overall pick. Sad how he had to choose a checking forward’s life and not a scorer’s one in his first 26 games of the season. He needs to have a degree of pride knowing that he can show Vancouver why he was drafted sixth overall.

Depth Chart: Fourth-line Right Winger

Although Virtanen is the most prolific right winger on the roster right now, the emergence of Jannik Hansen and the demotion of Vrbata to the second line have bumped Virtanen to the fourth line, not to mention the entrance of Emerson Etem.

What Vancouver Needs to Do

Trade Vrbata before too late. This is a risky move. Hoping that Virtanen can step up and score on the right side of Horvat and Baertschi after just recently finding his legs after the World Juniors? It is going to be difficult for Virtanen but should he pull it off, Vancouver can trade Vrbata knowing that it won’t hurt its playoff chances too badly (Vrbata was never a playoff scorer anyhow).

Should Virtanen pull it off, Vancouver can also divert its cap space this offseason on getting more help on the first line or on the top-four defence instead of having to consider replacing Vrbata. A win-win for everyone, but a risky move rushing Virtanen.

What Virtanen Needs to Do

Overcome Emerson Etem. Etem has solidified his spot as the team’s third-line right winger. Just like the situation with Sutter and Horvat, Etem and Virtanen are similar players — strong skaters, physical, and young. Virtanen obviously has more offence in him. He will need to leap-frog Etem to get himself that second-line honour and do so through offensive production.

Next: No. 3: Perfecting the Development of Ben Hutton