The Edmonton Oilers sign Jake Virtanen, Jason Demers to PTOs
By Jordan Laroche
With the NHL season drawing closer, teams are looking to fill in the last few spots on their rosters before October 7.
In a slew of Professional Trout Contracts (PTOs) signed around the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers signed Jake Virtanen and Jason Demers to PTOs. Both Virtanen and Demers played in the KHL last year after being unable to find NHL contracts prior to the 2021-2022 season for very different reasons.
Demers spent his last four NHL seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, the last was during a shortened season where he had 4 points in 41 games and was a -4.
Demers only appeared in five games for AK Bars Kazan registering one assist during the stint, the team was swept in the first round of the KHL Playoffs by Avangard Omsk. Demers also played for Team Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics where he had two assists in five games before the team was knocked out.
Demers turned 34 this offseason, and with the Oilers defensive group looking complete heading into the season, Demers will likely be the 7th defenseman on the roster.
Virtanen, a former 6th overall pick by the Vancouver Canucks, never quite turned into the elite player many thought he would have. Despite that, he has shown promise to be a top-9 forward in the NHL when he had 36 points in 69 games in 2019-2020.
Virtanen had a less-than memorable departure from the NHL in 2021 after being charged with Sexual Assault, he was bought out by the Canucks shortly after. However, in July a British Columbia jury found him not guilty of the charges.
While many have written Virtanen off, he has always played a physical game throwing over 150 hits in consecutive seasons in 2017-2018, 2018-2019. Virtanen could challenge for a fourth line role, but being around Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl could reinvigorate Virtanen much like they did for Jesse Puljujarvi.