Virtanen makes Canucks opening-day roster

Abbotsford minor hockey product staying with Canucks for now

Abbotsford's Jake Virtanen handles the puck during training camp with the Canucks. Virtanen has cracked the opening day roster for the pro team.

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen has made the cut.

The Vancouver Canucks announced on Monday that the 19-year-old Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association product is staying up with the big club, at least for the time being.

There is still the possibility that he could return to his junior team, the Calgary Hitmen, as he’s still too young to play in the AHL.

Virtanen can play nine games before the Canucks have to make the decision to keep him up or return him to junior.

Virtanen was the Canucks’ sixth overall selection at the 2014 draft and had two goals and two assists in six pre-season games. He also impressed at the Young Stats Classic event in Penticton from Sept. 11 to 14.

He crunched Edmonton’s prized first-round pick Connor McDavid on Sept. 11 and scored the winning goal against Calgary in the Canucks’ final tournament game on Sept. 14.

He made his professional debut last season, suiting up in eight games for the Utica Comets of the AHL and recording one point and six penalty minutes. He had 52 points in 50 games with the Hitmen last season.

Virtanen starred with Abbotsford Minor Hockey for many years, scoring 119 points in 62 games for the Hawks in his bantam year in 2010-11.

He was then picked first overall in the WHL draft by the Hitmen in 2011. He signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Canucks in the summer of 2014.

The Canucks open the season on Wednesday when they face off against the Calgary Flames. The home debut for Virtanen will be on Saturday when the Canucks host the Flames.

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