Jakub Voracek, 6-2, 209 pounds
August 15, 1989 (33 years old)
Acquired via trade July 24, 2021
Cap hit: $8.25M through 2023-24
Role: Second line winger
Things have come full circle for Jakub Voracek and the Blue Jackets. Originally selected by the club with the 7th overall at the 2007 draft, Voracek was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers just before the 2011 draft as part of the Jeff Carter trade. 10 years and over 800 games later, Voracek was returned to Columbus last summer in exchange for beloved right wing Cam Atkinson. He was solid, if not overwhelming – scoring 6 goals and leading the team with 56 points, while skating in 79 games.
A talented distributor of the puck, Voracek was a much needed skill addition to the forward group for the Blue Jackets. He skated on the top line alongside Patrik Laine and Boone Jenner, giving the team a quality playmaker the likes of which they’d lacked since Artemi Panarin left Columbus. Though it’s absurd to say he’s as good as Panarin, he seemed to fit right into the culture of the locker room, becoming a vocal leader and a mentor for some of the younger players on the roster.
While it’s never fun to see a highly regarded player like Atkinson dealt away, it’s hard to argue that the Blue Jackets got the better player in the trade. Voracek is a skilled player who can hold onto the puck for that crucial extra second to draw in defenders, and has the vision and passing ability to find an open teammate. His cap hit isn’t ideal, but he’s a competitive player who gives the Blue Jackets a calming, veteran presence up front.
Three Keys to Success
- Shoot, Jakub! While his assist total was great (he finished tied for 20th in the entire league); Voracek took less than two shots per game on average. Improving on his six goals should be his primary focus this season.
- Settle into the second line. He’s been a first line player for much of his career, but he doesn’t have to be anymore. Playing his game and producing secondary scoring, is really all this team needs.
- Be a leader. He was consistent and solid everywhere he played last season, which are critical qualities to have from your veterans, on such a young roster.
2022-23 Expectation: Set the example.
How much fun was it to watch Voracek on a line with rookies Cole Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov last year? They were dangerous every time they were put together, and I think that’s the best role for him at this point in his career. He can still produce with talented youngsters and seemed rejuvenated by playing with them. While he has some good miles left, ideally he’s a secondary piece on a competing team. Using his skill and leadership to help develop the youth movement in Columbus, is all we can ask for. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Zach Werenski