According to TSN on Friday, two players from the Calgary Hitmen were selected in the first round of the 2014 National Hockey League Draft in Philadelphia. Right wing Jake Virtanen was drafted sixth overall by the Vancouver Canucks and defenseman Travis Sanheim was drafted 17th by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Virtanen led the Calgary Hitmen with 45 goals during the 2013-14 Western Hockey League regular season. He also notched 26 assists for 71 points and had 100 penalty minutes. He was also a +23 in 71 regular season games.
He also added one goal and three assists for four points in six regular season games. Virtanen was ecstatic to have been drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, because being a native of Abbotsford, British Columbia, the Canucks were Virtanen’s favourite National Hockey League team growing up.
Virtanen is 17 years old and is six feet and 208 pounds. A right winger, do not be surprised if Virtanen will bulk up even more in the next year or two. It is also the second consecutive year that the Canucks have drafted a player that has a Calgary connection in the first round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft. In 2013, the Canucks drafted Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk in the first round with their 24th pick.
It should be noted that it is highly unlikely that Virtanen will play for the Vancouver Canucks for the first few months this season. That is because Virtanen had shoulder surgery in May and is to be out four to six months. Do not be surprised if he will be leading Canada at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship in Toronto and Montreal.
The selection of Sanheim was a big surprise for many, but was well received by the home fans of the Philadelphia Flyers. Sanheim, from Elkhorn, Manitoba, is a 6’3″, 181 pound defenseman, who is known for his strong defensive zone coverage. According to Ken Weibe of the Winnipeg Sun, Sanheim is known for his passing ability, skating and maturity.