The Columbus Blue Jackets anticipated big things from Jakub Voracek when they selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft. They just didn’t anticipate he’d be accomplishing them with a different team.
Voracek has developed into one of the most exciting young forwards in the NHL with Philadelphia. And the Flyers rewarded him on Thursday, agreeing to terms with the 25-year-old on an eight-year contract extension worth a reported $66 million.
“It’s a pleasure to be a part of the organization for hopefully, minimum, nine years,” Voracek, who has one year remaining on his current deal, told NHL.com. “Hopefully we can get that silver Stanley Cup to Philly one day.”
A virtual unknown to Flyers fans, Voracek has become one of the most beloved players in the City of Brotherly Love in just four seasons. Many of the Flyers faithful questioned the trade that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus, but the Czech Republic native has answered them in emphatic fashion.
After three promising campaigns with the Blue Jackets, Voracek fell one point shy of matching his career high by posting 49 in his first season with the Flyers in 2011-12. He went on to have a strong postseason, registering 10 points in 11 playoff contests.
Voracek proceeded to record a personal-best 22 goals and 46 points during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, which consisted of only 48 games. The improvement continued the following season, as he produced career-high numbers across the board – 23 goals, 39 assists and 62 points.
Intent on pushing himself to greater heights, Voracek had his best season to date in 2014-15. Although he came up a goal short of the previous season’s total, he collected 59 assists — one behind Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals for the league lead.
His 81 points led the Flyers and tied him with Washington captain Alex Ovechkin for fourth in the NHL. The 6-foot-2, 214-pounder appeared in all 82 games, marking the third straight season he didn’t miss time, and has sat out only four contests during his tenure with the Flyers.
Voracek’s outstanding first half earned him a trip to his first All-Star Game, which ironically was played in Columbus. He put on a show in front of his former hometown fans, tying Hall-of-Famer Mario Lemieux’s All-Star record by registering six points, including a hat trick.
The superb season did not go unnoticed, as Voracek won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the Flyers’ most valuable player as voted by local sportscasters and sportswriters. He also received the Gene Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the Flyer “who demonstrated the most heart” by the team’s Fan Club.
The trade that landed Voracek on June 23, 2011 has proven to be a huge one as Philadelphia also received the Blue Jackets’ first-round pick that year, which it turned into Sean Couturier. The 22-year-old center received job security earlier in the week in the form of a six-year contract worth a reported $26 million.
As far as deals go, it was an unsuccessful one for Columbus as Carter lasted less than one season before being shipped out to Los Angeles. On the other hand, it’s been nothing but a positive trade for the Flyers, who now have two more pieces of their future secured for quite a while.