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2014 NHL Draft Central

Nashville Predators Draft Targets – Jake Virtanen


Jun 20, 2014

2013-2014 Team: Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

2013-2014 Stats: 71gp, 45g, 26a (71pts)

Scouting Report Synopsis (via Hockey’s Future):

“Complete power forward. Shoots the puck hard. Strong along the boards. Key asset is his great acceleration and speed. Moves well laterally without gearing down. Relied upon in all situations. Capable physically.”

Why Nashville WOULD draft Jake Virtanen:

Another power forward along the lines of Nicholas Ritchie, but this time with a tad more well-rounded. With Ritchie, you have a defenseman-like presence on the wing. With Virtanen, you have a true and more complete power forward. Standing at 6’1″ and around 210 pounds, Virtanen’s speed equally complements his commanding size.

Along with his speed for a winger of his size, Virtanen adds a sizzling shot that easily finds its way to the back of the net. Nashville needs and loves it’s two-way forwards; the ones that can play both sides of the ice and do so effectively. Virtanen is a prototypical Predators-style player with a fantastic scoring touch. That’s a hard combination for Nashville to pass up.

Why Nashville WOULD NOT draft Jake Virtanen:

While Virtanen can crash the boards, score plenty of goals and lead his team along the way, he seemingly has a discipline problem that has stood out in his past two seasons with Calgary. 67 penalty minutes in 2013 and 100 penalty minutes this past season, Virtanen may need to reel that in a bit when he gets to the NHL level. An interesting example was laid out in the Edmonton Journal just a month ago:

“While he’s come along greatly since his rookie season, when he seemed to take a bad penalty every other game, there are still times when he’ll make a bad decision and you’ll wonder where the heck his head was at. The example of this that springs to mind comes from the last game of the regular season against Kootenay. With the score 4-1 midway through the third period, Virtanen engaged in a pointless scrap with Ice defender Rinat Valiev, and left the ice favouring his hand. At the time I was concerned that he’d busted his hand on Valiev’s helmet; while he returned for the playoffs, it was revealed afterward that he’d suffered a shoulder injury. It’s not clear whether that fight was the cause, or if it aggravated a pre-existing injury, or whether it’s down to a nasty hit he took at the turnbuckle in Game 3. Whatever the case, it was an obviously poor decision: he’s far more useful to the Hitmen scoring goals than throwing hands.” 

Granted, this is a single example, however 100 penalty minutes in a season isn’t a misprint either.

Chance that Nashville drafts Jake Virtanen:

Solid. Virtanen is one of three players that we here at The Predatorial feel that the Predators will target at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He could slip in the rankings far enough for Nashville to select him at 11 and most mock drafts can’t pinpoint exactly where Virtanen will land. Some have him as high as six while others have him as far down as 21. It’s not a guarantee, but if he’s available at 11 I can see Nashville selecting him.

Photo Credit: Brad Watson