Jakub Voracek has quietly become the player that scouts had pegged him as before he entered the league. Strong at both ends of the ice, there are few players who are as effective as the Philadelphia Flyers winger.
Jakub Voracek’s ascent to the top of the scoring race has been one of this season’s biggest surprises, but even without the gaudy totals, he’s quietly emerged as one of the league’s most dominant forwards over the past three seasons. With 34 points, Voracek sits third in the league behind
Tyler Seguin and
Sidney Crosby and has 84 points in his last 82 games. A point-per-game season and career highs across the board is obviously not out of the question for Voracek, especially considering the chemistry he’s shown with one of the game’s best point producers,
Claude Giroux. He’s got great hockey IQ and vision to go along with great playmaking ability, but the rate he’s scoring at now, a 102 point pace, likely won’t continue.
At 5-on-5, Voracek has points on 19 of the 21 goals he’s been on the ice for. His usual range is between 65 to 80 percent, and while a slight improvement is possible, not many players can sustain scoring a point on 90 percent of on-ice goals for very long. The lofty totals may be because of some great bounces in his favour, but at the very least it should finally give him some recognition as one of the game’s elite players. The points are nice, but where the 25-year-old Voracek really excels is in his two-way game, something that’s incredibly hard to come by for a winger, and one of the reasons he was a top ranked prospect coming into the 2007 draft – THN had him at No. 4 while ISS had him at No. 1. Over the past three seasons, Voracek has taken huge strides in becoming the 200-foot player many scouts thought he would become by being dependable at both ends of the ice and tenacious in pursuing pucks making him an elite puck possession player. Those are especially difficult qualities to come by in a winger and he’s become one of the league’s best. Puck possession has become all the rage in the NHL and Voracek has been exceptional thanks to his innate ability to transition through the neutral zone. He’s become Philadelphia’s best weapon at gaining the offensive zone, which gives him and his teammates more opportunity to generate shots and spend less time in the defensive zone. And the results have been exceptional. While many people are talking about Voracek being third in points, few have mentioned that he’s also second in the league in relative Corsi (among players who’ve played more than 250 minutes) behind only Minnesota Wild defenseman
Jonas Brodin. To put that into perspective, no player has ever finished the season top five in both points and relative Corsi. Since it’s a measure of the difference between the Flyers’ Corsi when Voracek is on and off the ice it may be a bit inflated because of the Flyers lack of depth. With that caveat in mind, it still shows not only Voracek’s importance to the team, but also his ability to elevate the play of those around him. Going further into that, you can look at individual player’s possession numbers when they play with Voracek and without Voracek.
It’s plain to see that with Voracek is on the ice, good things are happening for the Flyers. When the Flyers acquired the former seventh overall pick in 2011 (along with an eighth overall pick that turned into
Sean Couturier) for
Jeff Carter, they received a 22-year-old forward with high upside who hadn’t quite realized it yet. And while many were aware of the untapped potential Voracek had after three seasons, there are probably few who would’ve predicted that he’d one day be the best player in the trade.