Canucks re-assign forward Jake Virtanen to AHL Utica

Willie Desjardins spoke about Jake Virtanen struggling a bit early on in the season, but Virtanen says he just wants consistent linemates.

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks have re-assigned Jake Virtanen to the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets, the club announced Wednesday.

The second-year forward was also sent down last week at the tail end of Vancouver’s recent six-game road trip. He was recalled on Sunday after a short stint in the minors that saw him fail to register a point in two games.

Virtanen’s status with the Canucks has been a hot topic this season for a club that sits 6-10-1 and has already endured a nine-game losing streak.

The sixth overall pick at the 2014 NHL draft has been in and out of the lineup, registering one assist in 10 games while averaging just over 10 minutes of ice time.

The 20-year-old from nearby Abbotsford, B.C., appeared in 55 games for Vancouver as a rookie in 2015-16, collecting seven goals and six assists while ranking second on the team with 128 hits.

Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins has been looking for more consistency from the six-foot-one 226-pound Virtanen, who didn’t play in Sunday’s 5-4 overtime victory over Dallas or a 7-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

Desjardins raised some eyebrows when asked before the New York game why Virtanen had been recalled from Utica if he wasn’t going to play in Vancouver.

"We were on the road, and so I don’t think he had any of his stuff," Desjardins said Tuesday morning. "He needed to come back to get his stuff for us to kind of make a decision on where we’re going to go at with him. When you’re on the road you don’t have anything.

"If you’re going to go down (to the AHL) for a while, you need to go back and get (your stuff)."

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