I think I speak for many when I say: it’s about time.
Jake Virtanen can help the Canucks now, but he is also a young player who needs to develop for the future.
At this stage of his career, the worst possible thing would be to keep him in the NHL but sit him in the press box. He needs to play, and play a lot. Where he plays is secondary.
It became clear over the last few weeks that he would not get a chance to play enough in the NHL. Whether deserved or not, the coach does not trust Virtanen enough to play him consistently right now.
The Canucks might be give up something by sending him down to the AHL. But long-term, this is the best move.
Not everyone agrees with Jim Benning selecting the Abbostford native 6th overall. Regardless, he carries a lot of expectations on his shoulders. It’s hard to be an effective NHL player at the best of times — try carrying the hopes of a franchise on your shoulders.
Granted, the stint will only be a short one:
Benning said Virtanen will play Friday and Saturday games with Utica and then return to the #Canucks.