Canucks News: Jake Virtanen Mistake Could Be Repeated at 2017 Draft

The Vancouver Canucks’ 2014 first-round pick, Jake Virtanen, did not have the kind of impact management had hoped for. Can it happen again?

For the Vancouver Canucks, the upcoming drafts will be of crucial importance. As long as they stay in playoff contention, they likely won’t get many top-three draft picks — the kind that can have a great, immediate impact. So, the picks they do make need to be home runs.

One player projected to be picked in the Canucks’ range in 2017 is Michael Rasmussen. There are many things that could make him a great pick, but there is also a major red flag.

Mostly the analytics community does not expect Rasmussen to become a big point producer at the NHL level. Canucks Army’s Jeremy Davis compared the 17-year-old centre to 2014 first-rounder Jake Virtanen — and with good reason.

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Jake Virtanen 2.0

Jeremy Davis (Canucks Army) — Let’s Talk About Michael Rasmussen

It hadn’t occurred to be before then, but Rasmussen was the perfect recipe for a Canucks selection: he’s a two-way centre, he scores a lot of goals, he’s big (6-foot-5), and he’s local (born in Surrey). How do the Canucks say no to that?! Would they really pick Rasmussen over Hischier?!

What’s there not to like about big, physical, hard-working forwards with a nose for the net? Didn’t we all love that gritty, relentless scoring winger named Alex Burrows when he was in his prime? Fans want players to do everything they can to succeed, so guys like Burrows, Virtanen and Rasmussen are usually well-liked by their respective fan bases.

If that player is a hometown boy, like Rasmussen, who was born in Surrey, it only gets better. A soon-to-be fan favourite.

Unfortunately, there is more to it.

While the Canucks seem to love those “meat-and-potatoes” guys who play a gritty, physical style, that is exactly the kind of first-round pick that is destined to fail.

As Davis outlined in his article, the majority of Rasmussen’s points is coming on the man advantage — that’s always a red flag in junior hockey.

Now, this does not mean Rasmussen can’t become an NHL regular, it just means teams maybe shouldn’t use their sixth-overall pick on him. The higher he gets drafted, the higher the bust potential.

Reading scouting reports on Rasmussen, it’s a lot of “good for his size”, “not bad”, “not flashy”, etc. along with “uses his size well” and “wins battles.” The only thing that screams top-10 talent about him is his production. But taking a deeper look at that, not even his production seems like top-10 level.

The Canucks might want to stay away from him, unless they make a deep playoff run and he’s still on the board when their pick rolls around.

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