Calgary Hitmen forward Jake Virtanen knows a little something about the whole draft process. The Virtanen, NHL Central Scouting’s 9th-ranked North American skater in its midterm rankings of players for the 2014 NHL Draft, the No. 1 pick of the 2011 Western Hockey League bantam draft.
Virtanen said he feels that experience will help him navigate his way to the 2014 NHL Draft in June.
According to the sources – “Obviously the Western Hockey League draft helped me out a lot,” Virtanen said. “You had a lot of scouts and media just because I was the first pick. It’s something you go through in hockey. “There are a couple new things but it’s pretty much the same stuff. You’ve just got to answer questions. I have a lot of fun with it, meeting new guys and meeting scouts. I love doing that. It’s a lot of fun.”
But there are dangers in a prospect constantly having to concern himself with the draft process, whether it is the WHL or NHL.
And Hitmen coach Mike Williamson has watched as the 17-year-old has battled the pressure of the process in Virtanen’s second go-round. Playing in Hitmen has given NHL scouts and executives plenty of breaks to view the projected first-round pick.