The 2014 NHL entry draft is still nine months away, with plenty still to be decided, but it’s shaping up to be a big day for Abbotsford native Jake Virtanen.
The 17-year-old left winger was front and centre as several preliminary draft ranking lists were released last week.
Virtanen was ranked No. 4 overall by International Scouting Services, and he was No. 6 on TSN’s list of the top draft-eligible prospects.
NHL’s Central Scouting, which releases a “ones to watch” list at this stage of the season rather than a traditional ranking, had Virtanen rated as an ‘A’ skater – one of just 23 players to receive the ‘A’ designation.
Virtanen, who is listed at 6’1” and 210 pounds, is projected as a prototypical power forward with a hard shot and elite skating ability.
He’s heading into his second season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, and scored a goal in the Hitmen’s regular season opener vs. the Edmonton Oil Kings last Saturday. He posted 16 goals and 18 assists in 62 games as a rookie.
Virtanen, the first overall pick in the WHL bantam draft in 2011, is coming off a successful summer which saw him win gold with Hockey Canada’s U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
VIDEO: Jake Virtanen’s slices through the Vancouver Giants for a highlight-reel goal (January, 2012)