Canucks: Jake Virtanen becomes 18th player on COVID-19 protocol list

Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Vancouver Canucks, it was reported that right-winger Jake Virtanen has become the latest player to be added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. That growing list does not include taxi squad reserves or any of the team’s coaching staff, strictly just roster players.

With the New Westminster native becoming the latest member of the Canucks to enter the COVID-19 protocol, the total number of roster players affected by the virus right now stands at 18 — a dangerously high number, as well as the largest outbreak that the National Hockey League has had to deal with so far this season.

Virtanen joins fellow teammates Nils Hoglander, Travis Boyd, Jalen Chatfield, Thatcher Demko, Alex Edler, Adam Gaudette, Travis Hamonic, Jayce Hawryluk, Braden Holtby, Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, Zack MacEwen, Marc Michaelis, Tyler Motte, Tyler Myers, Antoine Roussel and Brandon Sutter.

The Canucks have been counting on the 24-year-old to finally break through this year and become a consistent contributor somewhere in the middle-six if not the top-six. Virtanen has struggled mightily to be that guy for Vancouver. He’s been consistently inconsistent, but when he’s having a good game he knows how to put the puck in the net.

Through 32 games in the 2021 season, Virtanen has notched just four goals and zero assists. Not good enough for someone who registered a career-high 36 points and 18 goals through 69 games in his previous campaign.

When the Canucks return to the ice it’s believed that they’ll still be able to complete their 56-game regular-season schedule. With 19 games remaining for Vancouver, hopefully, Virtanen can get healthy and find a way to be more of a well-rounded player. Adding a few assists to his stat sheet this year would go a long way — so would a few more goals.

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