Philly Sports Live

What We Learned: What Jake Voracek tells us about usage and player value (Puck Daddy)

Late last week, Jakub Voracek signed a hefty contract extension with the Philadelphia Flyers that made him a player with the 10th-highest cap hit in the league (tied with Eric Staal and Ryan Getzlaf). The initial reaction most people had to that deal probably ranged somewhere between, “Well, Jake Voracek isn’t a top-10 player in the league, so that’s a dumb contract,” and, “He doesn’t deserve as much money as Ryan Getzlaf,” and “He’s only getting paid because of Claude Giroux.” [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] These are three related but separate ideas, all of which imply that Voracek isn’t “worth it” in some way. But even at a baseline, if you believe that’s the case, this was one of those contracts that was unavoidable because he puts up points, drives play, and stays healthy. Voracek has 189 points in his last 212 games — good for 10th in the league over that stretch, and 14th in points per game — with a possession share that hasn’t dipped below 52.8 percent in the last three seasons. He has also missed exactly zero games in that time. That is a player providing significant value, even if he were just a hop-along to an elite player, which he isn’t. In short, Voracek is very, very good, and the perception that he’s a product of playing with Giroux, while understandable, isn’t all that fair to him. He and Giroux form a lethal partnership, to be sure, but it isn’t because Giroux carries the water . In his first season with the Flyers, under Peter Laviolette, it seems the club didn’t really understand what it had in Voracek. As you can see below, he was protected from tougher competition to some extent. But it appears he was used more as a shutdown guy in the lockout season, the first in which he spent most of his time with Giroux (in truth, the Flyers were just not very good and got pushed around a lot; that actually qualifies as favorable usage relative to the rest of that dreadful team, which averaged 44.5 percent offensive zone starts). And the last two seasons, now a permanent fixture with Giroux, he’s been used more or less the same way.