Oilers signal Virtanen to tryout settlement two months after not responsible verdict

The 26-year-old from Abbotsford appeared in 36 video games for Spartak Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League final season, scoring 9 objectives and including seven assists.

EDMONTON — Jake Virtanen repeated himself all through Monday’s media availability at Rogers Place. That he did issues the suitable method. That he let the authorized course of play out.

And he understands that there could also be Oilers followers who won’t ever consider his facet of the story if he earns a spot on the crew this fall.

You are reading: Oilers signal Virtanen to tryout settlement two months after not responsible verdict

“Everybody has their very own opinion on all the things,” mentioned Virtanen, the previous Vancouver Canucks winger who in July was discovered not responsible of sexual assault by a B.C. Supreme Court docket jury. “I feel that’s necessary. I feel everybody ought to have their very own opinion on all the things, that’s why we stay in a terrific nation.”

Virtanen was charged in January in reference to an incident in a downtown Vancouver resort room in September 2017.

He was a right-winger for the Canucks when the allegations surfaced in Could 2021. The crew positioned him on depart and purchased out his contract the next month.

The jury returned a verdict of not responsible on July 26.

Virtanen claimed in court docket that the encounter was consensual.

“I went via the method and it was very arduous. It felt very lengthy, for me, in my coronary heart,” he mentioned. “I used to be very harassed, and I went via quite a lot of stuff, however, on the finish of the day, I did it the suitable method and I’m very joyful I did it the suitable method.”

Together with a lot scrutiny for the signing on social media, some in Edmonton really feel as if this can be a dangerous search for the crew.

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Mary Jane James, CEO of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, says such a transfer walks alongside the identical traces as Hockey Canada’s missteps.

“Properly, it speaks to me that the Oilers are sending a message that they’re taking the decision at face worth, no matter what the allegations have been — which have been very, very severe — and simply sweeping it below the carpet like they did at Hockey Canada in 2003, and once more in 2018, and it’s actually, actually disappointing,” she mentioned, referring to sexual assault allegations leveled towards two completely different world junior hockey groups.

“It’s sending a horrible message to our neighborhood of what they prioritize. They prioritize their probabilities of having a profitable crew over the horrible message of getting somebody on their crew who’s been accused of such a horrific crime.”

James mentioned there isn’t any path towards sending the right message except organizations make it some extent to not signal such gamers.

“We’re by no means going to get to the opposite facet except we begin placing our cash the place our mouths are and that’s, we aren’t going to affiliate with anybody who has this historical past,” mentioned James. “We is not going to. And that can ship a message to others which will say, ‘Don’t suppose it’s price it.”’

Virtanen, an Abbotsford, B.C. native, made his NHL debut in 2015 together with his hometown Canucks, however he by no means lived as much as the hype that got here with being the No. 6 decide within the 2014 draft.

His greatest season, 2019-20, noticed him rating 18 occasions and add 18 assists, not the numbers anticipated from such a extremely touted prospect.

Virtanen spent a part of the 2021-22 season with Spartak Moscow of the KHL, however left Russia when the conflict started in Ukraine.

Now he has a shot to make the Oilers’ roster, a crew well-known for giving gamers second, third and even fourth probabilities. Evander Kane was signed final season after his contract was terminated by the San Jose Sharks, and there have been accusations — unproven — that he’d abused his ex-wife.

Kane additionally addressed points he had with playing with the previous. However, with the Oilers, he re-established himself as an elite energy ahead, scoring 22 occasions in 43 regular-season video games as an Oiler and netting 13 extra in 15 playoff matches.

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There is no such thing as a method Virtanen is predicted to throw up these sorts of numbers, and if he’s signed, Oilers president and common supervisor Ken Holland might want to pull off some wage cap wizardry for a crew that’s already up towards it. And the Oilers have additionally signed 34-year-old defenceman Jason Demers to knowledgeable tryout.

Virtanen mentioned a number of groups have been inquisitive about his companies.

“There have been fairly a number of groups and we had plenty of conversations over {the summertime},” he mentioned. “Edmonton was one among them. I talked so much over the summer season with them, and so they have been actually good conversations. It was an excellent summer season and, after my stuff was all executed, we actually began to speak extra.”

Virtanen mentioned he is able to flip the web page, and is hoping the followers can be as effectively.

“My objective is to get again within the NHL,” he mentioned, including that one nice influence Russia made on his life was his health degree.

“The Russian coaching is on one other degree. I had six or seven months of that. It actually exhibits. These guys work arduous over there.”

And he had this to say about his time with the Canucks.

“I cherished Vancouver and so they have a terrific group there. I’ve nothing dangerous to say about it. I really like all these guys nonetheless in Vancouver, they have been nice teammates,” he mentioned.

If Virtanen makes the crew, and the Oilers can discover the cap area to present him a contract, it gained’t take lengthy for him to reintroduce himself to the Canucks. The Oilers open the season Oct. 12 at dwelling to Vancouver.

The Oilers open coaching camp this week.

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