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Philadelphia Flyers Midterm Top 25 Under 25, No. 1: Jakub Voracek

After almost three seasons in Philadelphia, the 24-year-old Czech has finally started to emerge as one of the NHL's elite right wingers, and fans should be pretty damn proud of his overall development.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Jakub Voracek

Birthdate: August 15, 1989 (age 24)
Acquired via: Traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 2011 1st-round pick and 3rd-round pick for Jeff Carter, June 2011
Current Team/League: Philadelphia Flyers, NHL
Nationality: Czech Republic (Kladno, Czechoslovakia)
Size: 6'2", 212
Contract: $4,250,000 cap hit per year through 2016

Let's get this out of the way early: Jake Voracek is not Jeff Carter. He will never be Jeff Carter. Jeff Carter is not Jake Voracek. How each of those two performed over the past three seasons and will perform from this day forward have nothing to do with each other. So let's stop comparing the two. The development of the 24-year-old right winger needs to be looked at on its own, outside of the bubble of the trade scenario that brought him here in the first place.

Now that we've got that settled: Jake Voracek has been one of the most consistent bright-spots this team has had to offer over the past two seasons. Arriving in Philadelphia as a result of the blockbuster trade that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus in exchange for the Blue Jackets' first round pick, the Blue Jackets' third round pick and himself, No. 93 has quickly become an integral player in the team's most prolific production line.

From the moment his second season in Philadelphia began, Voracek's role was pretty much set. He played a couple of games (around five or six, I think) on the second line with sheltered minutes before he was bumped up to the first line, centered by Claude Giroux. He's stuck there ever since. Since then, the two have become the team's top possession tandem, primarily driven by Voracek, who has become a beast with regards to carrying the puck through the neutral zone with speed and entering the offensive zone with possession. He's the best the Flyers have, easily, in those two aspects of the game. It's not even close.

He's not exactly a strong finisher - and he probably may never reach that point - but he's got elite puck possession skills, and he's dangerous from all areas of the ice. He's got the hands and sense to find open players at even-strength and on the power play. One of the primary concerns regarding his development had to do with his play along the boards, where Jakub had the size the dominate, but didn't show enough for people to believe he'd be an impact player there. Over the past two seasons here in Philadelphia, that's changed dramatically.

Voracek's been a staple of the first line and first-unit power play for almost two years now. In the 2012-2013 season, No. 93 was almost a point-per-game player - 22 goals (a career high) and 24 assists in 48 games. Here's what The Hockey News had to say about Voracek's breakout season:

Voracek, unsurprisingly mishandled woefully by the Columbus Blue Jackets, had a major breakout year this past season, putting up 46P (22G, 24A) in 48 games. However, it's worth noting that this came with a 17.1 shooting percent--Voracek is a career 10.4% shooter, and in 2011-12, he shot just 9.5% on 190 shots, giving him 49P (18G, 31A) in 78 games. Voracek is highly unlikely to repeat his 17.1%, so it's unrealistic to expect him to be a point-per-game player.

At 24, Voracek is right around his efficiency peak, so it's a safe bet to say that those are probably the best numbers he'll put up.

About a week ago, Pierce Cunneen put up an interesting post regarding Voracek's numbers compared to a survey of what people believed were considered the class of NHL's elite right wingers. Let's take a look at all of the even-strength data from 2011-2014, and see where Voracek ends up. (s/t to Pierce for the charts.)

NAME AVG. GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC G/60 P/60 Corsi Relative per 60 Corsi On per 60 Penalty Differential / 60 Off Zone Start %
ALEX OVECHKIN 59 15.51440678 -0.126012618 1.264809854 1.986068061 1.151024198 -1.225547059 0.588735456 55.16449336
COREY PERRY 60.66666667 15.36956044 0.583818472 1.094851176 2.145842432 12.81683934 6.22262893 0.323135497 48.49208368
JAKUB VORACEK 61 12.63360656 0.597116603 1.039117498 2.258126646 14.60155583 10.09164303 0.50487251 54.55190943
JAMES NEAL 52 14.02282051 0.345648101 1.2058456 2.494995703 11.88572473 13.43929127 -0.348053539 61.53311269
MARIAN HOSSA 58.33333333 14.16731429 0.64484189 1.109665709 2.537355523 6.151384273 12.97278726 0.324589397 58.87521377
MARTIN ST. LOUIS 60.66666667 17.17758242 0.468156094 0.939685509 2.477267202 2.39367819 -1.747999693 0.67549707 54.71952967
PATRICK KANE 62.33333333 15.95973262 0.62744565 0.984712998 2.512022403 0.261077176 8.503846378 0.396164813 63.83072874
PHIL KESSEL 62.66666667 16.10978723 0.636278614 1.229593745 2.536542673 5.813719029 -5.248881676 0.137684241 50.00023179

And if you adjusted everyone's goals and point totals for 14 minutes of even-strength TOI and 3.5 minutes of power play TOI over an 82 game season, this is what you'd get:

NAME Adjusted Goals Adjusted Points

Right on par with the rest of the group. Oddly enough, Voracek receives the fewest TOI/60 of the entire group, by quite a large margin. Perhaps it's time for management and the coaching staff to change that.

After almost three seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, I think it's time for Jake Voracek to enter into the 'elite NHL right wingers' conversation. Philadelphia's got something special on their hands, and fans should be pretty damn proud of Voracek's development over the past two+ years.  So what now?  Voracek's name has been thrown around here and there re: Philadelphia's pursuit of a top-pairing defenseman.  He should plan on being on Giroux's wing for a long time, but, right now, I have no idea whether or not he'll still be here in 2-3 years.  Let's hope someone shows those charts to Homer.

And how can you not love Jake when he's done stuff like this before?

Or this.

Seriously, Voracek's one of the best follows on Twitter, even if he only makes an appearance every month or so.

How we voted for Jakub Voracek:

Albert Allison Charlie Collin Kelly Kevin Kurt Travis
2 2 1 1 1 2 1 2

Who we voted for at No. 1:

Albert Allison Charlie Collin Kelly Kevin Kurt Travis
Sean Couturier Sean Couturier Jakub Voracek Jakub Voracek Jakub Voracek Sean Couturier Jakub Voracek Sean Couturier