Is Jake Virtanen safe this offseason? The sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft has had a disappointing start to his NHL career. In two seasons he has only played in 65 games, scoring seven goals and tailing another seven assists. He spent most of his time last year in the AHL and didn't preform much better.
People will question if he will ever succeed in Vancouver. His hometown, as he grew up just an hour ago away. The thought is, the Canucks management isn't ready to give up on Virtanen yet. They hired his AHL coach from Utica to be the new Canucks coach, therefore all signs point to him getting more than a fair chance of making the team next year.
What if it doesn't work out. You ran the risk of getting next to nothing from a once promising player.
So would the Canucks consider trading Virtanen? As it is, there might not be room for Virtanen next year with so many young guys about to join the fold.
For some possible partners, how about the Florida Panthers? Vancouver and Florida are due for their annual player swap and a player like Thomas Vanek might be appealing for Vancouver.
Vanek produced 48 points between Detroit and Florida last year which would have been good for third in scoring for Vancouver. It isn't a secret but Vancouver needs some scoring. No matter how well Virtanen does next year he isn't scoring 48 points. In other words, the Canucks improve their team next year at least in the short term while creating some Virbata like magic has high reward. At 2.6 Million cap hit he isn't that expensive to roll the dice a bit.
For Florida, the chances of competing for a Cup next year are slim and at 33, the opportunity to get a underachieving prospect for a 33 year old is good value with nothing to lose.
For Vancouver, there is a risk factor involved. Virtanen still could be a star. How I see it though, if Vanek turns out to be a bust, by October of 2018 players like Adam Gaudette, Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlén will hopefully be playing well that the Canucks won't be missing Virtanen if he ends up turning his career around.
The reward for Vancouver is somewhat high as well. Vanek would add a present to the lineup that was missing last year.
I don't see Benning pulling the trigger on this trade, at this time I don't see him speeding up this rebuild but I would hate to get nothing for Virtanen.