Philadelphia Flyers 2013-14 Year In Review: Jakub Voracek

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Jakub Voracek followed up his breakout offensive season with yet another fantastic year, cementing himself as one of Philadelphia's best players.

Jakub Voracek

Age: 24 (August 15, 1989)
Contract Status: $4.25 million per year through 2016

2013-14 Stats

GP TOI/GP Goals Assists Points
82 17:15 23 39 62
Corsi For Corsi Rel Quality of Comp. (TOI%) Zone Start % PDO
55.2% (1) 7.4% (1) 29.4% (3) 58.5% (2) 101.8% (1)

(Numbers in parentheses indicate descending rank among regular Flyers players at his position, i.e. one of the team's top eight defensemen or top 13 forwards.)

Most frequent forward lines

Linemates Goals For% Corsi For% OZ/DZ%
Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux 61.5% (+24 / -15) 57.3% 60.2%
Michael Raffl, Claude Giroux 71.4% (+15 / -6) 59.7% 67.6%
Tye McGinn, Claude Giroux 42.9% (+3 / -4) 50.0% 54.2%

Breakout season validated

With the departure of Jaromir Jagr after the 2011-12 season, the Philadelphia Flyers lost a key contributor -- a big scoring winger who could drive play alongside Claude Giroux on the first line and help unlock the best from the team's superstar center.

Enter Jakub Voracek.

Voracek had long been a favorite of the stat crowd, but his 2013 season finally put him on everyone's radar. He was promoted to the Flyers' top line early in the year, and scored at nearly a point per game pace (46 points in 48 games) during the shortened season.

While the underlying numbers backed up Voracek's breakout, another strong season in 2013-14 would go a long way towards convincing any remaining doubters that the young winger had established himself as a true first-line forward.

If any doubters still exist, they simply aren't paying attention

If any doubters still exist, they simply aren't paying attention.

Voracek followed up his huge 2013 with yet another stellar year. The raw scoring totals weren't quite as impressive, but 62 points is certainly nothing to sneeze at, especially when Voracek proved to be the Flyers' best possession driver and made almost every player on the roster better when he was on the ice.

Every stat loves Voracek

It's difficult to find a statistical measure that doesn't make Jakub Voracek look like a borderline superstar.

His possession statistics, for one, are outstanding. Voracek led the team in shot attempt differential (Corsi), as the Flyers generated 55.2% of the overall shot attempts at 5v5 when he was on the ice. His Corsi relative to his teammates was even more impressive, as his +7.4% ranked him 11th in the entire league -- better than Sidney Crosby (17th), Joe Thornton (18th) and Jonathan Toews (33rd).

Also, Voracek wasn't just generating shot attempts. He was generating quality scoring chances at an extremely high rate as well. Thanks to Andrew D's great work, we have scoring chance data for the entire 2013-14 season, and yet again, Voracek comes out on top. While he was on the ice, the Flyers created 56.7% of the overall scoring chances -- best on the team.

If we break down the numbers a bit further, Voracek leads the team in chances created per 60 minutes of 5v5 play with 19.2, and out of the non-fourth line Flyers forwards, only Michael Raffl was better at preventing opponent scoring chances.

Voracek may not be known as a top tier defensive forward, like a Sean Couturier. But when a player has the puck most of the time, the other team is going to struggle to create scoring chances. It's that skillset that Jakub Voracek brings to the table in spades.

Anything negative about Jake?

So far, this has been mostly a "Jakub Voracek is awesome" review, so let's try to provide some balance.

To start, Voracek was fairly sheltered in his minutes. He was tied with Scott Hartnell for the team lead in offensive zone starts (58.3% offensive zone draws vs. defensive zone draws), which surely helped him in his possession and scoring chance dominance. For comparison, his linemate Claude Giroux finished the season with an offensive zone start percentage of 54.4%. The difference between Giroux and Voracek's starts is likely due to the fact that Craig Berube often used the captain to help close out games in the defensive zone, a role that Voracek does not play.

Also, there was the drop in scoring, as Voracek went from 0.958 points per game in 2012-13 to 0.756 this season. That's not an insignificant decline.

However, as Eric T. noted, Voracek's breakout season in 2013 was at least partially driven by an elevated shooting percentage -- a career-high 17.1%. That came back down to earth this season (9.8%) and in turn, Voracek's raw point totals declined a bit. In fact, Eric projected 22 goals and 39 assists for Voracek this season, almost exactly the production that the Flyers received from him.

To be honest, most critiques of Voracek feel more like nitpicking than anything. He could probably stand to shoot a little bit more, but he took a career-high 235 shots this season and led the Flyers in 5v5 Shots/60. He maybe could tighten up his game in the defensive zone a tad, but the Flyers spend so much time with the puck when he's out there that defense really isn't a major issue for him.

Basically, Jakub Voracek is just a really, really good hockey player.

Preseason expectations

We missed out on a season preview for Voracek before the season began, but in terms of scoring, we did have a relative expectation of around 61 points, per the Eric T. article mentioned above.

Speaking in hindsight in terms of expected overall best case/worst case scenarios, the best case for Voracek coming into this season would have been that his shooting percentage stayed at the elevated rate from 2013, implying that Voracek had truly developed into a sniper, and finished the year on a point per game pace. The worst case scenario would have been a regression back to his pre-Philadelphia point totals, accompanied by a demotion off the top line.

Verdict

Jakub Voracek followed up his offensive breakout season with a year where he firmly established himself as one of the better right wings in hockey. His raw point totals over the past two seasons put him within striking distance of more publicized players such as Patrick Kane, Martin St. Louis and Marian Hossa, and his elite play-driving ability confirms his talent.

In all honesty, a case could be made that Jakub Voracek is actually the best player on the Flyers. That's probably going a bit too far, as Claude Giroux is one of the league's truly elite power play quarterbacks and a fantastic penalty killer as well, but at even strength, Voracek is right there with him.

It may have hurt Flyers fans to see Jeff Carter lift the Stanley Cup for the second time and know that he used to be a franchise cornerstone. But they can take solace in the fact that the centerpiece of the trade that saw Carter leave Philadelphia has developed into a true top line right winger who is now one of the Flyers' most indispensable players.

***

Feel free to vote in the poll below to grade Jakub Voracek's season on a scale from 1 to 10. Vote based on your expectations for him coming into the season -- i.e. 1 being "he was incredibly disappointing and I want him out now", 10 being "he was outstanding even beyond my craziest expectations".

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