Team: Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Hometown: New Westminster, BC
Projected: Mid-First Round
Jake Virtanen has all the tools to be a successful player in the NHL. A prototypical power forward, he's physically aggressive and has deceptive speed. Along with that, he has good hands that he uses in a variety of situations. Also helping his cause, Virtanen had the highest grade of on-ice testing in the CHL prospect showcase.
Statistically, Virtanen is not the most impressive player in this draft as he has only amassed just over a point per game on a Calgary Hitmen team that has been dominant in the WHL. This is a little bit disconcerting considering the wealth of talent he possesses. For this reason, I would expect him in the ten to fifteen range, barring a massive offensive surge during the last part of this season.
According to data released by Sport Testing, Virtanen had the highest overall grade from the on-ice tests.
Among the highlights was his top time in the 30-meter forward sprint at 3.92 seconds, as well as the top time in the 30-meter backwards sprint, 4.55 seconds.
Jake has undeniable skill. Excellent skater who has speed, quickness and power. Can beat defenders with his skating and when he gets an advantage, his size makes it almost impossible for a defender to get back on equal footing. Very strong shot and can beat goaltenders from out but also has the quickness in his hands to score in tight. Has the potential to be a dynamic scoring winger.
Where He Would Fit
Virtanen is outside of the level of player Nashville will be looking for, assuming they end up with a relatively high pick; out of the three mock drafts on NHL.com, only one had Virtanen inside of the top 10 (at number 9). The only way I see the Predators being interested in him is if they have a successful end to the season or if Virtanen has a jump in production.
The redeeming fact about Virtanen is that he has the skills to be a huge factor on any team in the league. I could see his game easily translating in the NHL and, although his current production does not show it, he could possibly turn into a player that puts up a lot of points once he makes the jump.
Because of these things, I could see Virtanen being a player Nashville would be very interested in on draft day, provided they are in the eight to fifteen range of the first round.