Jake Virtanen shakes hands with Vancouver Canucks officials after being chosen sixth overall during the first round of the NHL hockey draft, Friday, June 27, 2014, in Philadelphia.
Photograph by: Matt Slocum, AP
PHILADELPHIA — When he got here, Vancouver GM Jim Benning admitted other teams’ executives told him he was both different and unpredictable.
Boy, were they right.
But Benning followed up the Canucks busiest non-deadline wheeling and dealing day in recent memory by doing something most predicted.
With the No. 6 overall pick, the Canucks selected Jake Virtanen, the Abbotsford kid who scored 45 goals with the Calgary Hitmen this season.
Sure, maybe it’s odd to see the Canucks finally take a B.C. prospect who played in the WHL. But this is a new era.
And Benning openly tipped his hand following the draft combine a month ago when he said he was most impressed by Sam Reinhart and Virtanen.
The Canucks tried to get their hands on Reinhart, offering the Florida Panthers a package that included two first-round picks and Hunter Shinkaruk.
But the Panthers were never serious about dealing the pick and the Canucks were more than prepared to take the 17-year-old sniper, who has all kinds of speed, but also a bum shoulder after undergoing offseason surgery on his torn labrum.
The excitable Virtanen, a longtime Markus Naslund fan, kept saying getting drafted by the Canucks felt “amazing.”
“I was at the hotel just sweating all day,” Virtanen said after being selected. “It really hit me now. It’s pretty great to be drafted by Vancouver. It was always a dream.”
But it’s going to be a while before he can play with the Canucks. With the shoulder, he said he’s not expecting to be ready for contact until mid-October.
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