Flyers Spotlight: Jakub Voracek, Emphasis On “Check”

It’s a brave new world when the Philadelphia Flyers are acting in a prudent and careful fashion. Gone are the splashy, silly overpayments for goalies or defensemen that eventually turn to dust as soon as they throw on the orange and black. Hell, they even got really good goaltending last year from not one but two goalies. Ron Hextall has found himself a pretty spiffy young core, with Ghost Bear and Provorov at the back and Giroux, Schenn, Bellmare, Couturier, Weal up front.

But as we know in Chicago, it really only takes one or two bad contracts to put yourself in the corner with baby. And the Flyera (intentional) might have one with Jakub Voracek.

This is the first year of Voracek’s new deal that will see him docking $8.2 million off the cap for the next eight years. But he signed that deal during the season last year, when he was coming off his career campaign of ’14-’15 with 81 points. That bested his previous career-high by some 19 points, which might have suggested “spike’ to some. Voracek’s goal total didn’t really rise that year. He scored 22, which is one less than he had the year before and the same as he had the year before that.

Where Voracek saw a spike was in his assist total, both primary and secondary. While both of them going up is encouraging, there is an element of luck in your assists rising dramatically because after all, someone else still has to convert what you’re setting up. This is doubly true of secondary assists. Voracek had a 20-assist rise off his career-high, finishing with 59. The big jump was on the power play, where had 22 assists where he hand never managed more than 14 before.

Now, whether you want to pay for power play production is a debate a lot of had. Power play goals count the same as even-strength goals of course, but they don’t really suggest the true value of a player.

If that’s what the Flyers were paying for, they got more of it last season when Voracek managed 22 assists again on the man advantage. What would have them concerned is the 11 total goals, and only one on the power play. But that can be attributed to his shooting-percentage getting cut in half from his career number, and that’s probably a whole lot of shitty luck. Voracek is likely to return to the 20-25 goal level this season.

But still, the season that brought Voracek all the money doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny. His 48 even-strength points that year were 15th in the NHL, which certainly isn’t bad but is it $8 million per worthy? The names around him are Seguin, Palat, Ribeiro, and Duchene. All effective players, but none of them should be getting a top-10 cap hit, should they?

The Flyers have only a couple contracts coming up that are going to give them pause. Ghost Bear is up after the season but is restricted and won’t even have arbitration rights. Provorov just started his entry-level deal. Both the goalies are up after this season, and Mason could demand a pretty big raise if he can match last year’s performance. Bellmare is up after this season as well, but is in the same boat as Ghost Bear. Everyone else is locked up. The Flyers have about $3 million in space this year, and some ballast is coming off the books in the next year.

The Flyers can probably get away with this Voracek deal, but it leaves them basically unable to make another mistake. Getting Ghost Bear and Bellmare to bridge deals would help. Not giving the world to Mason is another way. They’re still well poised, but they’re going to have to be awfully careful.

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