I’ll be chronicling my top five list of the greatest European Flyers of all time — talking about their time with the Flyers, career legacy, and what might have been. It was tough to narrow it down to five, and there are plenty of (very) honorable mentions.
3. Jakub Voracek
You may not believe it, but in his nearly eight seasons with the Flyers, Jakub Voracek has become the Flyers’ top point scorer among European skaters. As of this article being written, Voracek has amassed 468 points, passing Pelle Eklund’s 452 in nine years as a Flyer. To think, that both he and the draft pick used to select Sean Couturier arrived for Jeff Carter, is quite incredible given how the trade panned out.
Voracek was born in Kladno, Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia at the time), a city that is was also home to one of the greatest hockey players ever, Jaromir Jagr. In fact, the professional hockey club in Kladno, HC Kladno, is owned by Jagr, and both he and Voracek played for the organization (though Voracek only played a single game). Perhaps then it was destiny then that Voracek and Jagr would end up playing on the same team in the NHL, if only for a year.
Voracek moved to Canada for Major Juniors, and played two years in the QMJHL for the amazingly named Halifax Mooseheads, and was drafted seventh overall in 2007 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. From 2008-09 to 2010-11, he would score 241 points with Columbus, and assisted on the franchise’s first ever playoff goal, scored by former Flyer R.J. Umberger (nostalgia blast!). Possibly in hopes of making a further playoff push for 2011-12, Columbus sent Voracek to the Flyers, along with the picks that would become Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins, for Jeff Carter, who had scored 36 goals the previous season. Of course, it is well documented that the Flyers won that trade, given that Carter was traded to Los Angeles later in 2011-12.
For the first few seasons after his arrival in Philadelphia (excluding the first when his spot went to Jagr), Voracek was placed on the first line, and developed chemistry with line-mates Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. During this period, we began to see Voracek’s skillset come to life in the NHL. He became an elite puck carrying winger with strength and poise, racking up assists at a formidable clip. He even scored his first playoff goal against the Penguins.
After an all-star performance in 2014-15, Voracek had a disappointing two seasons, scoring only 55 and 61 points resepectively in 2015-16 and 2016-17. At this point, there were concerns that Voracek was in decline, however, after a career high 85 points in 2017-18, Voracek hoped to have silenced his critics.
Voracek is unique on this list because he is still in the midst of his playing career, and who know how many points he will have accrued by the time his Flyers/NHL career finishes. As such, even despite his existing point total, his legacy has yet to be fully formed. As good as Voracek can be, he is perhaps known for being slightly inconsistent, and sloppy with the puck. Additionally, much like the core of Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds, he is toward the end of his prime years, and will look to still be effective as he enters his thirties. Though, I think it is safe to say that Voracek is deserving of the #3 spot on this list, and that hopefully he and his chia beard can make the Flyers a winning team with his contributions.