Although Canucks right winger Jake Virtanen has struggled once again this season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted in an interview with Sportsnet 960 in Calgary (audio link) that he doesn’t expect the team to give up on the former first rounder just yet (transcription via Fan Rag’s Chris Nichols):
“But it’s looking to me right now that the Vancouver Canucks and Jake Virtanen – for whatever reason it’s oil and water right now. It’s not a mix. They probably should have sent him down last year. But you’re not giving up on a guy who is a first-round pick after two years. You’re still going to keep it, even though he’s devalued a bit.”
Virtanen made the NHL roster out of training camp but struggled early on, collecting just a single assist in ten games. He was then sent to the minors in November in the hopes that he would rediscover his scoring touch but that has yet to happen as well as he has just five goals and five assists in 39 minor league contests. However, he’s still just 20 years old so it’s far too early to sell low on him (which they would be doing by moving him now) just yet.
Other notes out of Vancouver:
- While the team remains within striking distance of a playoff spot (they’re just five points out of a Wild Card position), Sportsnet’s Mark Spector argues that the Canucks need to be in full seller mode. He cautions about what goaltender Ryan Miller would fetch in a possible trade as many playoff-bound teams already have their goaltending in place and that he’d be more of an insurance policy than an upgrade. He also notes Alex Burrows as someone who would be attractive to teams and suggests that New Jersey’s return for Vernon Fiddler from the Predators (a fourth round pick) could be around what they should expect to get for him.
- Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province notes that GM Jim Benning will talk to some of the players with some form of no-trade protection about potentially waiving those clauses as the team gets set to begin their CBA-mandated bye week on Monday. That list is a long one as Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Loui Eriksson all have no-move clauses, Burrows, Miller, Brandon Sutter, and Alex Edler all have full no-trade clauses while Jannik Hansen can block a trade to 21 teams. Kuzma also suggests that the Canucks may have some extra motivation to try and move Hansen in particular as he may be a player the team considers leaving unprotected in June’s expansion draft.