FILe - This April 11, 2012 file photo shows Philadelphia Flyers' Jakub Voracek, of the Czech Republic, celebrating his overtime goal during Game 1 of an opening-round NHL hockey playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, in Pittsburgh. The Flyers signed Voracek to a multi-year contract extension on Thursday, July 26, 2012.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
PHILADELPHIA - The Flyers signed forward Jakub Voracek to a four-year contract Thursday, worth $17 million.
Voracek came to Philadelphia last season in the deal that sent forward Jeff Carter to Columbus and had a big debut season in the Eastern Conference. He had 18 goals and 49 points in 78 regular-season games last season, and finished third on the Flyers in post-season scoring with 10 points.
"We are happy to have Jake under contract," Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren said, "and look forward to him being a big part of our future."
Across four seasons in the NHL, Voracek has 57 goals and 183 points in 319 regular-season games. He has played in just 15 post-season games, 11 of them with Philadelphia last season. His salary cap will be $4.25 million, annually.
"The season I had last year was pretty successful and I know if I work hard, which is what I've been doing all summer, I can get better and better," Voracek said. "Hopefully, I'll have better numbers next year and we'll be a better overall team than we were last year."
Voracek, 22, is one of the key cogs up front that Holmgren and coach Peter Laviolette would like to build around. He was one of seven Flyers to score at least 18 goals last season, and all but one—forward Jaromir Jagr, who signed with Dallas—will be back next season.
"With the players that you have on the Flyers like (forward) Danny Briere, (defenceman) Kimmo Timonen, and really the whole team, I can say that I got better practicing with them and playing with them," Voracek said. "I had a lot of fun last year and I'm very happy to be part of it again."
As is Holmgren.
"We really like our team, we certainly don't want to make any drastic changes, but we are going to continue to look at ways to get better," Holmgren said this week after losing out on the battle for free-agent defenceman Shea Weber. "The object is to have the best team going into training camp and that's what we're going to do. We'll see what happens."
Voracek, who will play on the top line this season, was a plus-11 last season as the Flyers snared the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. They defeated Pittsburgh in Round 1 in six games, before bowing out to New Jersey in five. It was the second straight season in which Philadelphia exited in Round 2.
"We envision Jake playing with (leading scorer) Claude (Giroux) next year," Holmgren said. "That's the way we look at it."
In addition to Weber, the Flyers also lost out on the free-agent sweepstakes for forward Zach Parise and defenceman Ryan Suter, who both signed with Minnesota. Aside from losing Jagr, who took a surprisingly high $4.5 million deal from the Stars, Philadelphia also watched one of its best defenceman, Matt Carle, sign with Tampa Bay.
"Obviously, (Weber's) a great defenceman in the NHL. But you know you're going 50-50 on that when you make an offer sheet and that's exactly how the Flyers felt," Voracek said. "Either or, it's going to work or if it doesn't, we just move on and give it another try and that's exactly what happened. Obviously, he would have been a big part of the team.
"But life goes on, right?"
Through it all, Holmgren has subscribed to the same philosophy. And he will now likely pursue trade options at this point with the free-agent pool shallow. Either way, he's committed to the cause.
"We like our team. We think it's a good, up-and-coming, young team," he said. "We'll move forward."