4 Mystery Forwards the Toronto Maple Leafs Could Be Targeting

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29: Tanner Pearson #70 of the Vancouver Canucks battles against John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 29, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canucks 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29: Tanner Pearson #70 of the Vancouver Canucks battles against John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 29, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canucks 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 29: Jake Virtanen #18 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

#2. Jake Virtanen

Similar to the Sam Bennett situation, Virtanen was a high draft-pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Not only did they come up together but they currently make the same amount of money ($2.55M). The only difference is that Virtanen has an extra year on his deal, whereas Bennett is a pending RFA.

Virtanen has had a tough start to the 2020-21 season. He’s been healthy-scratched four times already, despite scoring a career-high 18 goals last year. He has the ability to put the puck in the net, but hasn’t been doing it at a consistent level, so the Canucks are getting tiresome.

Here’s what general manager Jim Benning said about Virtanen, courtesy of Sportsnet.ca.

"“With him, it’s that consistency you’re looking for shift in and shift out…I think Jake’s come a long way these last couple of years. We’ve seen glimpses of what he can be. “It can be frustrating. But I’ve just seen too many examples where if you’re not patient with those guys and move them on, he ends up being that power forward that scores 25 goals for somebody else. We’ve put a lot of time in his development and we’re hoping he can continue to mature and get better and be that player for us.”"

Benning obviously understands how great Virtanen can be, but also understands that it may be worth moving on from him, if he’s not going to do it every night in Vancouver. If the Leafs were to acquire a player like Virtanen it wouldn’t cost them a king’s ransom and he would be able to jump into their top-six.

He has the speed and offensive capabilities to do great things and that could be unlocked on the wing of either Auston Matthews or John Tavares.