Like fellow $8-million man Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek struggled for stretches over the 2016-17 season. Unsurprisingly, it was a big reason why the Philadelphia Flyers missed the playoffs.
However, it was still a better year for Voracek than 2015-16 where he mustered just 11 goals and 55 points. Last season he hit the 20-goal mark again and totaled 61 points.
The Flyers extended the Czech Republic native to his eight-year deal after his 81-point season in 2014-15, though, and would like him to return to those levels. Last season, he did show some flashes of that.
Instead of having Voracek play largely with Giroux, coach Dave Hakstol had him start the year with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny. The line started off strong — Voracek had eight points in the first six games — but was broken up as the Flyers went through an early season lull.
From there, Voracek stayed pretty consistent — except for a six-game pointless drought in November — but was hardly ever a dominant player. Philly needs more of that from the winger this season.
Voracek is usually a strong catalyst on the power play also, but does take some heat for some of his passes and turnovers. Last season, he saw some time on the second unit to help divide up some talent.
Voracek is a lock to play a lot of offensive minutes. Like every Flyers forward he’s likely to jump around on lines, but he’ll be playing just as much as he did last season.
Depending on what new assistant coach Kris Knoblauch wants to do with the power play, Voracek could see second unit time again this season.
If Giroux can rebound this season, Voracek figures to also. The pair may be split up more often than they ever used to be, but the fact remains that they usually play their best hockey together.
I predicted that Giroux would have a small bounceback to around 65 points this season. If the captain’s rebounding, chances are Voracek will also.
Of course, many Flyers fans are concerned with the former Blue Jacket, though, based on his declining numbers and poor play in the preseason. Voracek is having troubles making plays in the offensive zone and is turning the puck over on the man advantage more than usual.
At 28 years old, Voracek is actually nearing the end of his prime based on numbers, which isn’t helping anything.
But the preseason is a small sample size and the first game action in months for most players. Any issues from veterans should be taken with a grain of salt. Prospects are fighting for spots but veterans like Voracek know they can take their time getting their feet underneath them.
The point still remains, though, that Voracek needs to rebound. Just like Giroux, expect a modest bump in production.