Abbotsford native Jake Virtanen, a left winger with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen, is being touted as one of the top prospects for the 2014 NHL entry draft.

Abbotsford native Jake Virtanen, a left winger with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen, is being touted as one of the top prospects for the 2014 NHL entry draft.

Abby’s Jake Virtanen highly touted for 2014 NHL Entry Draft

The 2014 NHL entry draft is still nine months away, with plenty still to be decided, but it’s shaping up to be a big day for Jake Virtanen.

The 2014 NHL entry draft is still nine months away, with plenty still to be decided, but it’s shaping up to be a big day for Abbotsford native Jake Virtanen.

The 17-year-old left winger was front and centre as several preliminary draft ranking lists were released last week.

Virtanen was ranked No. 4 overall by International Scouting Services, and he was No. 6 on TSN’s list of the top draft-eligible prospects.

NHL’s Central Scouting, which releases a “ones to watch” list at this stage of the season rather than a traditional ranking, had Virtanen rated as an ‘A’ skater – one of just 23 players to receive the ‘A’ designation.

Virtanen, who is listed at 6’1” and 210 pounds, is projected as a prototypical power forward with a hard shot and elite skating ability.

He’s heading into his second season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, and scored a goal in the Hitmen’s regular season opener vs. the Edmonton Oil Kings last Saturday. He posted 16 goals and 18 assists in 62 games as a rookie.

Virtanen, the first overall pick in the WHL bantam draft in 2011, is coming off a successful summer which saw him win gold with Hockey Canada’s U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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VIDEO: Jake Virtanen’s slices through the Vancouver Giants for a highlight-reel goal (January, 2012)

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