One preseason game remaining and Jake Virtanen remains with his team. The former sixth overall pick in 2014, has failed to crack the Canucks roster, but a solid training camp has many believing he has a good chance to become a regular in Vancouver this year, according to NBC Sports Cam Tucker.
After getting into 55 games two years ago with Vancouver in an underwhelming season, he managed to make just 10 appearances last year and even struggled with the AHL’s Utica Comets, scoring just 19 points in 65 games. However, his skills are obvious. Canucks GM Jim Benning has stated that his size and speed just need developing. At 6-foot-1 and 229 pounds and only 21 years old, Virtanen is trying to establish himself now, but is also trying not to think about whether he makes the roster this season. He has focused on his play instead and has already notched three preseason goals.
“I’m not going to worry about that,” Virtanen said of the team’s upcoming roster decisions. “I love when I can get in games. Whatever opportunity you can get, you want to make the most of it.”
- Vegas Golden Knights’ forward James Neal, who has been out with an injured hand, is reportedly practicing today without a red jersey, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal’s David Schoen. That suggests the top scorer might be ready for the regular season next week. The 32-year-old wing, one of the team’s top players, put up 23 goals last year and is considered to be a key trade chip at the trade deadline later this season.
- The Edmonton Oilers tweeted that forward Anton Slepyshev is expected to make his preseason debut tonight in Vancouver. “We’ve got to get him up and running,” said coach Todd McLellan. Slepyshev has missed all of training camp with an ankle injury. The 23-year-old wing scored four goals in 41 games for Edmonton last year.
- The Athletic’s Sunil Agnihotri (subscription required) writes that Edmonton’s choice to not bring in a veteran defenseman to help the team out while Andrej Sekera is out until January with a torn ACL is a big mistake. The scribe details how relying on internal options to replace him such as Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning or Yohann Auvitu is unreliable as the team hopes one of them makes a jump in their development. One example in his breakdown is Sekera’s success on the power play, which the young candidates have a combined 78 minutes of experience playing there.