2013 Year in Review: Jakub Voracek

Image c/o BridgetDS

There weren’t too many bright spots to pick out of the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2013 season, but the production and growth of Jakub Voracek could be one of the biggest positives to take away from the non-playoff campaign. With impressive numbers offensively and being considered one of the more consistent players for the Orange and Black throughout their 23-22-3 season, Voracek exceeded the expectations many had for him before the start of the shortened year.

Out of his five seasons in the NHL to date, Voracek’s 46 points were tied for his second-lowest point total for a season. However, considering there were only 48 games this year, the former Columbus Blue Jacket was nearly a point-per-game player. The closest Voracek was to a point-per-game player before this season was last season, when he posted 49 points in 78 contests.

On top of producing his best point-per-game pace for any of his seasons in the NHL to date, Voracek also set a career-high for goals in a season. After he posted 18 last season in 78 tilts last year, Voracek reset his career-high to 22 this year in 30 less games. Eight of Voracek’s 22 tallies came on the power play, which was good enough for the fourth-highest amount of man advantage goals across the league. His eight power-play tallies was the same number of power-play goals that each Patrick Kane, Pavel Datsyuk, Matt Moulson, Jeff Carter, Andrei Markov, and Dustin Brown produced this season.

This season also saw several firsts for Voracek, like recording his first hat trick, his first four-assist game, and his first fighting major as a Flyer.

His hat trick provided a trio of crucial goals in what turned out to be a thrilling 6-5 win for the Flyers over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center on February 20.

His four-assist game came one contest earlier, as he provided the passing boost in Philly’s 7-0 rout of the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on February 18.

In one of the more polarizing plays of the Flyers’ mediocre season was when Voracek decided to stand up for Claude Giroux in what was at the time a must-win contest for Philly against the Washington Capitals on Easter Sunday.

Early in the third period of the contest, Steve Oleksy leveled Giroux with a clean hit in the Flyers’ zone in a 2-2 game. Voracek skated over to Oleksy and proceeded to pummel the blue liner for his hit seconds earlier. Unfortunately for Voracek, he handed the visitors a four-minute power play for instigating a fight while wearing a visor. The Caps scored two power-play goals just 26 seconds apart to make it a 4-2 game. However, the Flyers tied it in dramatic fashion late in regulation before Ruslan Fedotenko potted the winner in overtime.

Some of the Flyers’ supporters liked the fact that Voracek stood up for Giroux, despite the fact it came at a crucial time in the season and nearly cost Philadelphia the game. Others felt that it was a dumb decision for Voracek to fight, although one could argue that at least one, if not both, tallies could have been prevented if Giroux didn’t carry the puck into the Flyers’ zone and then flub a clear to hand Washington their first power-play goal with Voracek in the box. Either way you look at it, it showed Voracek’s willingness to defend his teammates, even if it was ill-timed in this certain situation.

In terms of his contract and future with the team, this looks to be the beginning of a great stretch of years for Voracek. He is currently the third-highest paid forward on the team, behind Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell. If, as many predicted, Briere is cut loose this Summer, that bumps Jake up to second spot.

If people aren’t pleased with his nearly unexpected point-per-game pace, they should be pleased with the fact Voracek produced in a season that came after he was handed a four-year deal worth $17 million rather than sitting back and collecting his money.