On Monday, the Oilers introduced Virtanen and defenceman Jason Demers could be attending coaching camp on PTOs, which begins Wednesday with physicals and medicals
The Edmonton Oilers have thrown ahead Jake Virtanen a lifeline by inviting him to coaching camp on knowledgeable tryout contract.
On Monday, the Oilers introduced Virtanen and defenceman Jason Demers, 34, could be attending coaching camp on PTOs, which begins Wednesday with physicals and medicals.
Virtanen, 26, was the sixth general choose within the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks and was finally purchased out after he was charged with one rely of sexual assault in January.
Virtanen was discovered not responsible in a jury trial this summer season. He spent final season in Russia enjoying with Spartak Moscow.
“It was clearly a really lengthy course of, I needed to observe that course of all over and do it the suitable manner,” Virtanen stated Monday. “Going over to Russia was undoubtedly a brand new expertise for me after which coming again, when my court docket case is finished, I needed to return again. I liked enjoying within the NHL and I simply needed to make that occur once more and I’ve that chance proper now.”
Oilers common supervisor Ken Holland is anticipated to talk on the signings later within the week.
Virtanen, who has a civil trial pending on the case, had 9 targets and 16 factors in 36 video games final season within the KHL. He returned to North America for his trial this summer season the place he was discovered not responsible in July.
Following the decision, Virtanen started to go searching for different NHL alternatives. In his closing season with the Canucks in 2020-21, he had 5 targets in 38 video games.
“There have been fairly just a few groups , we had a lot of conversations over the summer season,” Virtanen stated. “Edmonton was one in every of them. I talked loads over the summer season with them they usually have been actually good conversations.
“It was good summer season and after my stuff (court docket case) was all carried out, we actually began to speak extra and it was good to return right here.”
Information of Virtanen’s invitation to coaching camp has sparked backlash on social media by those that imagine the product of New Westminster, B.C., doesn’t deserve one other alternative contemplating the seriousness of the allegations.
Virtanen was accused of sexual assault by a lady, court docket paperwork say, he met on the 2017 Calgary Stampede. The ladies alleged she traveled to Vancouver that September, obtained along with Virtanen and he sexually assaulted her in a lodge room. Virtanen stated the sexual encounter was consensual.
“For me, going by one thing like this can be a very robust factor to undergo for me and my household and my accomplice,” Virtanen stated. “Going by one thing like that, you undergo loads of ups and downs, and also you be taught loads about your self and who you’re as an individual.
“You do loads of self-reflection on who you’re and your self-worth. It was a protracted course of. I believed that by the top of it, I’m very glad and really grateful that I did it the suitable manner with the suitable course of. I went by the entire thing correctly, now I’m right here and I’m very grateful for this chance.”
Virtanen is conscious the tryout provide by the Oilers is unpopular with some followers.
“Everybody has their very own opinion on all the pieces and I feel that’s vital, everybody ought to have their very own opinion on all the pieces, that’s why we dwell in an incredible nation,” Virtanen stated. “I went by the method on all the pieces and it was very laborious. It felt very lengthy for me, in my coronary heart I used to be very harassed, and I went by loads. On the finish of the day, I went by loads, however I’m very glad I did it the suitable manner.”
If Virtanen can earn a contract with the Oilers, it will probably be in a bottom-six function to begin. When chosen by the Canucks, he was anticipated to assist flip the franchise round.
Virtanen’s best season was in 2019-’20, when he had 18 targets and 36 factors in 69 video games. He then added two targets and three factors in 16 playoff video games.
“I need to are available in and I need to be a participant — I need to get again to my recreation and I need to be that energy ahead and I need to use my velocity and my shot and I simply need to work laborious and that’s what I’m seeking to do,” Virtanen stated. “I feel coming in right here, the gamers are nice, you’ve got a number of the finest gamers on the planet on this group, it’s a really expert and a really thrilling group. I feel it’s going to be an incredible 12 months for this group and I feel for me to make this time, I simply need to discover a manner on any line.
“I need to do all the pieces I can to be a 200-foot participant, and also you simply have to offer your finest effort day by day and also you simply have to return in and work laborious and that’s what it’s important to.”
Virtanen had signed a two-year, $5.1-million contract extension with the Canucks simply previous to the sexual assault accusation, which was made in Might, 2021. Vancouver went on to purchase out the final 12 months of his contract, making Virtanen an unrestricted free agent.
The Oilers are at present $6.7 million over the wage cap and must make room for Virtanen if he makes the group.
“It was nice being drafted by Vancouver, I liked that — being raised within the Decrease Mainland and watching them develop up, the Canucks is a group I all the time watched,” Virtanen stated. “I liked Vancouver they usually had an incredible group there, I don’t have something unhealthy to say about it. I really like all these guys nonetheless. In Vancouver I had nice teammates, an incredible employees and it was an incredible group.
“It was robust although, as a result of being a hometown man, and everyone understanding you, it was robust, however I actually loved it and there was loads of stress on me and I felt I did all proper. With this new begin and this new alternative, I’m very excited.”