Jake Virtanen’s future role in the Vancouver Canucks organization will, in large part, be determined by what happens on or before his arbitration date on Oct. 28.
The 24-year-old Abbotsford native was a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but his rights were qualified by the Canucks on Oct. 6.
Virtanen filed for salary arbitration on Oct. 9, and unless the two sides come to an agreement before his arbitration date, a third party will determine his next contract.
The issue the Canucks currently face is that they have just under $1.05 million of cap space, and would definitely have to make some moves in order to retain the Abbotsford product.
"They've got no money. You've got a bottom 6 that doesn't give you much inspiration. You're looking at Jake Virtanen in your top-6. That's a big ask. Are you sure Myers is able to play in your top 4? And you'd be hard-pressed to think the goaltending is as good"@rayferrarotsn pic.twitter.com/2f0gKCUnEi
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) October 20, 2020
Virtanen’s cap hit last year was $1.25 million, and he signed a two-year deal back in 2018.
Many insiders are projecting Virtanen to receive a raise to at least $3 million per season or more based on his production last season. He achieved career highs in goals (18), assists (18) and points (36), but was considered to be a disappointment in the playoffs with just three points in 16 games.
Interesting comparison for Jake Virtanen in Vancouver. https://t.co/H78huyKx4W
— Randip Janda (@RandipJanda) October 16, 2020
What occurs in salary arbitration is both the player and team submit their expectations for the player’s salary for the coming year. The team cannot ask for a reduction more than 15 per cent. The arbitrator then hears from both sides and renders a verdict. That verdict is now the salary the team is required to pay the player.
The team then has 48 hours to either accept the new salary amount or decline, which would then make the player an unrestricted free agent and free to choose anywhere he chooses. Virtanen elected to go to arbitration so the Canucks do have the ability to walk away from the verdict if they don’t like it. However, they would get nothing in return if Virtanen signs elsewhere.
Virtanen has 95 points and 178 penalty minutes in 279 career games for the Canucks.
He honed his skills in the Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association system and with the Yale Hockey Academy and was drafted sixth overall by the Canucks in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
He also spent four seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, producing 161 points in 192 games.