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REPORT: Capitals Believed To Have Inquired About Jake Virtanen

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Did the Washington Capitals inquire about Jake Virtanen?

Although the Washington Capitals seemed to get all of their offseason business done in the first 48 hours of free agency. However, they were reportedly still considering one name on the market with training camp quickly approaching: Jake Virtanen.

On Tuesday, Bob Stauffer said on CHED 630’s Oilers Now show that the Capitals were among five teams inquiring about Virtanen. However, it looks like he will either end up with the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames.

“There’s been discussion around Jake Virtanen… there was a belief that there was probably five teams [interested]. I thought Washington was a team that was inquiring… it could be a Battle of Alberta situation,” Stauffer said on the show. “I know that there’s some people that don’t want Jake Virtanen in the mix and there’s others that think Jake Virtanen at a $750,000 price point on a PTO coming in to earn a contract might be worth the investment. It’ll be something to watch for… I do believe there’s a possibility that it could be one of the two Alberta teams.”

The 26-year-old last played for the Vancouver Canucks in 2020-21. In April 2021, sexual assault allegations came out against him dating back to September 2017. A woman claimed and posted online that Virtanen, who was 21 at the time, sexually assaulted her in a downtown Vancouver hotel room. The Canucks placed him on leave and then, in July 2021, terminated his contract. After that, he headed to the KHL to play with Sparta Moskow. However, the team released him from that deal in 2022 after a “breach of contract” amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Canadian authorities then charged Virtanen with sexual assault in January. The complainant did not go to the police at the time of the incident but ultimately took it to authorities. Virtanen went to trial this summer.

READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Release Rookie Camp Roster, Schedule

Per the report, Virtanen had met a woman at the Calgary Stampede and kept in touch with her. In September 2017, the two went to meet in a Vancouver hotel room. The woman said that she told Virtanen “no” many times and told him that she didn’t want to have sex with him, but that he pinned her down against the hotel room and forced the encounter. Virtanen said that the encounter was consensual and that the woman was an “enthusiastic participant.”

The case went to trial, and on July 26, Virtanen was found not guilty of sexual assault. That verdict led to him garnering interest from teams as he looks to continue his professional hockey playing career. In 317 NHL games over six years, Virtanen has dished 55 goals and 45 assists for 100 points. The 6-1, 226-pound right wing went sixth overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.

It is unclear where Virtanen would fit in for the Capitals, though the team is still missing Tom Wilson and may have wanted to see if there was more depth to add on the right side, especially on a low-risk PTO. However, Washington already has Connor Brown coming in, and Carl Hagelin could be coming back, which would leave the team with an influx of forwards and interesting decisions to make down the line.

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