Sports

Abbotsford's Jake Virtanen earns lofty ranking for NHL draft

Jake Virtanen has scored seven goals in his last seven games for the WHL
Jake Virtanen has scored seven goals in his last seven games for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.
— image credit: Brad Watson / Calgary Hitmen

Abbotsford hockey prospect Jake Virtanen is No. 9 among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings.

The stock watch for the 2014 NHL entry draft, released Monday, is Central Scouting's first proper rankings of the season. The scouting body had released a "ones to watch" list back in September, and Virtanen, a 6'1", 208-pound left winger, had received an 'A' designation.

The 17-year-old is in his second full season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, and has 26 goals and 16 assists for 42 points in 43 games this season with a +11 rating. He's been particularly hot since the calendar flipped to 2014, having notched seven goals and five assists in seven games thus far in January.

Virtanen will participate in the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday, and he'll have home ice advantage as the game is being held at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, where the Hitmen play their home games. He'll be playing on Team Orr, coached by Calgary Flames legend Lanny McDonald. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet at 6 p.m.

Virtanen, the first overall pick in the WHL bantam draft in 2011, won gold with Hockey Canada’s U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia last summer.

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