Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Virtanen, selected by the Vancouver Canucks with the No. 6 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, was the first player from the province picked in the first round by the Canucks since Cam Neely in 1983.
Virtanen joined Calgary as the No. 1 pick in the 2011 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft and quickly made the jump from 16 goals in 2012-13 to 45 the following season. His final season in Calgary was abbreviated by a shoulder injury, but he still scored 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) in 50 games. Healthy again, he joined Utica of the American Hockey League and had one assist in 10 playoff games.