After a disappointing performance through the Vancouver Canucks 2020 NHL Playoff run, is it safe to say that Jake Virtanen has run out of time in Vancouver?
Sometimes we create our own heartbreaks through expectation.
Head coach Travis Green decided to make Virtanen a healthy scratch when the Canucks dropped the puck in their first game versus the Minnesota Wild. After that, Virtanen drew into the lineup and played 16 straight games right up until the moment Vancouver was bested by the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games.
You would expect a fiery hot Virtanen to come out with something to prove after spending time in the press box, but that never happened. Instead, Virtanen struggled to provide any sort of offense as he played a sheltered role on the third and fourth lines.
The version of Virtanen that was expected to be a difference-maker in the playoffs was anything but. Averaging just over two hits per game he wasn’t much of a physical force. He was a liability defensively, and through 16 contests he only tallied a total of three points (two goals, one assist). That’s not good enough. Not even close.
Is it time to move on from the soon to be RFA? He’s been given six years to prove himself in Vancouver, but the local kid has been a pain in Green’s backside, and he’s never been capable of playing consistent hockey.
Coming to the rink every day with players like Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Bo Horvat… the list goes on. All these guys want to be the best they can be every single day, and if Virtanen can’t figure out his game surrounded by players of that caliber, is it safe to say he never will?
Jim Benning talked with the media on Tuesday at noon Pacific time and he had a lot to discuss about the playoffs, the future of this team, and some difficult decisions pending over the next four weeks. He talked in length about soon having to make hard choices on young players, as well as how he thought that Virtanen was a player he expected to do more for the Canucks during their playoff run.
Was this the final straw for Virtanen and the Vancouver Canucks? It’s really starting to feel that way. The local kid has had every opportunity to better himself and be someone the Canucks can rely on, but I just don’t see those chances continuing for him with Vancouver being cap strapped this offseason.
Of course, only time will tell. But you have to know that Benning will be at least be considering the idea of moving out Virtanen. He’s an 18-goal guy who could have had 20+ on a full season, and if the right trade comes along, Benning will no doubt pull the trigger.
Keep your eyes on The Canuck Way for more updates on the Canucks as the offseason continues to unfold. It’s shaping up to be one of the busiest offseasons in recent memory and we will definitely have you covered for everything Canucks-related.