Jake Virtanen avoided arbitration on Thursday by signing a two-year extension with the Vancouver Canucks. His hearing was scheduled for Oct 28, but they were determined to get a deal done before that. After it was consummated, he did a Zoom call with the media. Give it a watch and see what he had to say about Jim Benning’s comments after the playoffs and how the experience was a bit of a wake-up call for him.
As Virtanen said in the interview, he gained valuable experience in the playoffs and got a bit of a reality-check afterward from his general manager. Benning was critical of his play, which just perpetuated the speculation that he could be on his way out of Vancouver this offseason. By avoiding arbitration, he also avoided more criticism that was inevitably going to occur throughout the proceedings as they determined his monetary value.
Virtanen mentioned the need to stay consistent game in and game out, which has been an issue for him in the past. Canucks head coach Travis Green knows him all too well and will continue to impress upon him the importance of work ethic and paying attention to the little things every time he steps over the boards.
With the Canucks losing Tyler Toffoli to free agency, and only signing a bottom-six forward in Jayce Hawryluk to replace him should give Virtanen a prime opportunity in the top-six next season. Barring any future signings, he will be expected to be an impact player and improve on his career-high 18 goals and 36 points that he put up in 2019-20. If he can do that and find the consistency that’s eluded him his entire career, this contract could be a bargain. Maybe his mediocre performance in the playoffs and subsequent critique from his GM was finally the slap in the face he needed?