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Meltzer's Player Profiles: Jakub Voracek

Already the leading point-getter among European players in Flyers' franchise history, Voracek is in his ninth season with the club

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer / philadelphiaflyers.com

Already the leading point-getter (561 points) among European players in Philadelphia Flyers' franchise history, Jakub Voracek is in his ninth season with the team. On a leaguewide basis, he ranks 15th across the NHL in total points dating back to the 2011-12 season. His 393 assists rank 11th in that time span.

A player who always wears his heart on his sleeve, Voracek plays with a lot of emotion. He will turn 31 on Aug. 15. 

Voracek's point totals this season prior to the schedule pause -- 12 goals, 56 points -- are behind his pace from several previous years. However, he has played one his best all-around seasons in other regards. Additionally, he was on an offensive hot streak at the time of the stoppage, posting 17 points in the final 18 games the team played from Feb. 1 to March 10. 

The Czech forward has always been more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. His 44 assists this season mark the sixth straight campaign in which Voracek has notched 40 or more helpers (with a career high of 65 in 2017-18). He is also a six-time 20-plus goal scorer in his Flyers career. 

When Voracek is at the top of his game, he is one of the hardest players in the NHL to separate from the puck. He fends off defenders, protects the puck and threads precision passes. Although he is not a natural sniper, he is dangerous off the rush when he gets into a one-on-one with the goaltenders.

Voracek has been one of the NHL most durable players over the course of his stint with the Flyers. This season, for the sixth time in his career, he has dressed in every possible game. 

One area of Voracek's game that has not gotten much attention this season has been his off-puck play and overall discipline. He has sacrificed some points to buy into the 200-foot game preached by head coach Alain Vigneault. 

For example, Voracek's credited takeaways are up this season. Cumulatively, he is seven away from matching his career-best 35, and has the second-highest takeaways per 60 minutes average of his career. Meanwhile, his charged giveaways are down. He's been charged with 30 giveaways this season (1.53 per 60 minutes played). That is the second-lowest giveaways-per-60 ratio and cumulative giveaways of his Flyers career. 

Voracek has also taken to heart the need for shorter shifts. He has trimmed his average shift time by four seconds per shift: 49 seconds last year to 45 seconds this year. His average number of shifts per game is virtually identical to last season (22.8 in 2018-19, 22.7 this season). 

In terms of puck possession stats at five-on-five, Voracek ranks fifth on the team with a 52.9 percent Corsi and 52.0 percent Fenwick when he's on the ice. More importantly, the Flyers have a 52.01 expected goal percentage with Voracek on the ice. As would be expected, nearly 60 percent (59.01%) of his even strength shifts have begun in the offensive zone. 

Voracek's traditional plus-minus rating has also improved this season in conjunction with his various underlying numbers. He is plus-14 this season; an improvement of 28 goals from his minus-14 last season. 

Voracek has four seasons remaining on the long-term contract that former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall signed him to after his career-best 2014-15 season (81 points in 82 games). The contract has an $8.25 AAV. He can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2024.

FIVE KEY FACTS

1) Voracek has posted 16 multi-point games this season. He ran off a string of three in a row from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2. Additionally, Voracek rattled off three-assist (Nov. 29 vs Detroit) and four-assist (Feb. 28 vs. Rangers) games this season.

2) The right winger's 36 points at 5-on-5 (7g, 29a) are second on the team this season; trailing only Sean Couturier (39 points). Additionally, Voracek's 19 primary assists at 5-on-5 are tops on the team. His overall 0.81 points per game are third on the team in 2019-20.

3) Voracek's 561 career points rank 11th in Flyers franchise history. Next up: He is 40 points away from tying Rod Brind"Amour's 601 points and moving into the all-time top 10.

4) Over the Flyers' final eight games before the leaguewide pause, Voracek racked up 10 assists.

5) Although his overall 12 goals are his lowest output since 2015-16, Voracek is is one of just five players on the Flyers to score goals in five or more different ways this season (excluding being credited for a goal that an opponent accidentally directed into his own team's net): four goals by wrist shot, five snap-shots, one slap shot, one backhander, and one tip in.

TOP HIGHLIGHTS

1) Jan. 15 @ STL (3:33 OT): One of the Flyers' signature victories this season was their 4-3 overtime road win against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. On a 2-on-1 rush, Voracek cut across the slot, faked a shot and then beat Jordan Binnington over the blocker to end the game.

2) Jan. 21 vs. PIT (5:26 2nd period): On the way to a 3-0 shutout win over the arch-rival Penguins in both teams' final game before the All-Star Break and their respective bye weeks, Voracek broke a scoreless deadlock in the middle frame. Voracek started and finished the play. It started with the Flyers forward intercepting the puck in the neutral zone and passing to Joel Farabee to start a counterattack. Voracek then wheeled up ice on the left wing and made a beeline toward the slot. Receiving a perfect pass from Sean Couturier, Voracek shifted to his backhand and beat Tristen Jarry inside the right post.

3) Feb. 28 vs. NYR (16:07 1st period): Voracek tied his single-game NHL career high with a four-assist outburst against the Rangers in the front end of the Flyers home-and-home sweep. Three of his four helpers were of the primary assist variety. This play was the first of his assists, alertly pouncing on a loose puck behind the net off a discarded and broken Ranger stick, stepping out in front and making a perfect cross-crease pass to goal-scorer Sean Couturier. The goal tied the score at 1-1. Philly went on to win, 5-2.

THEY SAID IT

"I explained to him -- like I did with all the veteran players on this team -- there's a time to check, and there's a time to go on the offense. He's done that well for us this year."

-- Alain Vigneault, March 8, 2020


HE SAID IT

"I'm 30 years old. But I think my game overall, defensively and offensively - I've never played better. ...Experience is a big part of it. You learn that when you do every little thing right defensively, eventually you're going to get the looks offensively. That's what you learn."

-- Jakub Voracek, March 8, 2020

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