Jake Virtanen, who has spent the last six seasons playing in the Vancouver Canucks organization, will be suiting up in the KHL for the 2021-22 campaign.
Virtanen, 25, signed a one-year deal with HC Spartak Moscow. This comes just a few months after being bought out by the Canucks on a deal that had one year remaining at a cap hit of $2.55 million. The sixth overall pick of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft really struggled in 2020-21 with five goals and zero assists in 38 games played.
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While his performance this past season wasn’t up to par, there were other factors that also played a major role in the buyout of Virtanen. He was forced to miss the final part of last season due to a woman accusing him of sexual assault at her hotel. These allegations are still ongoing and made it an easy decision for the Canucks to part ways with him, and also certainly played a factor in him generating no interest from NHL clubs in free agency.
While Virtanen has shown some potential in his career to this point — especially in 2019-20 when he established career highs with 18 goals and 36 points in 69 games — he was never able to put it all together on a consistent basis. That, paired with the allegation he is currently facing, makes it seem rather unlikely that we ever see him in the NHL again.
KHL Move Not Surprising
It is not surprising to see him go to the KHL, a league that does not appear to take any sort of misconduct very seriously. They welcomed back Slava Voynov years ago after a domestic incident with his wife which got him suspended indefinitely by the NHL, and also brought in Brendan Leipsic last year from the Washington Capitals after he made several vulgar remarks on an Instagram group chat.
The Canucks moving on from Virtanen will be seen by some as an addition by subtraction, as his inconsistencies drew the ire of a large section of the fanbase. It is certainly a disappointing end to what was once a very exciting time when he was first drafted to Vancouver, but it clearly did not work out as planned from either side.
Next: Canadiens Looked at Multiple Options Before Deciding on Dvorak
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