Jakub Voracek Finally Looks Like a Star for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2014-15

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst INovember 12, 2014

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 04:  Jakub Voracek #93 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on from the bench during his game against the Edmonton Oilers on November 4, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Len Redkoles/Getty Images

Jakub Voracek has been the biggest revelation of the Philadelphia Flyers' 2014-15 season thus far, and he's arguably the biggest reason that they haven't fallen toward the bottom of the Metropolitan Division yet.

Most people would expect Claude Giroux to be the Flyers player chasing the Art Ross Trophy, given to the player with the most points at the end of the season, but right now he's only tied for seventh in the scoring race.

As of Wednesday, November 12, Voracek is second in the league in points with 22, trailing Sidney Crosby by just two.

He's also second in the league in assists with 16, again trailing only Crosby, who has 17. Voracek has also added six goals on the season.

These are some pretty remarkable numbers through 14 games. If Voracek were to keep scoring at such a pace without missing a game, he would finish this season with 128 points. This would beat Mark Recchi's Flyers single-season record of 123.

Obviously, the chances of that happening are extremely slim, but it just gives some perspective on how good Voracek has been thus far.

To the casual fan, it may be shocking to see Voracek putting up totals like this, but it's actually closer to what some expected when the Flyers traded for him in 2011.

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Just as an extra rant, by the way, anyone who still thinks the Flyers didn't get a better deal in the Jeff Carter and Mike Richards trades is crazy.

For the Columbus deal: Voracek has scored 179 points since the trade, Carter has 131. The Flyers also got Sean Couturier in that trade.

For the Los Angeles deal: Wayne Simmonds has scored 152 points since the trade, Mike Richards has 124. The Flyers also got Brayden Schenn in that trade.

But old trades aside, Voracek's ascension to stardom is something that people were hoping for since Columbus couldn't figure out how to rein in its seventh overall pick.

He was obviously talented but just couldn't seem to put it all together. According to CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio, former Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel was extreme critical of the Czech winger and felt he wasn't in good enough shape to be a star.

That frustration may have been warranted, but it seems like the Blue Jackets just couldn't figure out how Voracek worked. Arniel is now an associate coach with the New York Rangers.

Voracek has certainly come into his own on the Flyers' first line, and playing alongside Giroux certainly helps.

He showed flashes of brilliance in his first three seasons with the Flyers, and he was not a disappointment by any stretch. After averaging nearly a point per game in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, he had a solid 62-point campaign in 2013-14.

But this is the explosion that we have all been waiting for. His quickness and stick-handling abilities have always been there, but there are some minor improvements that are making all the difference.

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 30: Jakub Voracek #93 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Amalie Arena on October 30, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Scott Audette/Getty Images

He's pushing the pace of play like never before. Too often in the past, he would be the passive recipient of Giroux's skill, but now the winger is keeping the puck for longer and driving possession in the offensive zone.

Check out this chart from Some Kind of Ninja. It shows all of the right wingers in the league who have played at least 10 games so far.

Voracek's bubble is the enormous blue one toward the top right corner of the page. The fact that he is further up on the graph is due to him facing a very high quality of competition, and his large blue circle illustrates how good he has been at driving possession.

When Voracek is on the ice, the Flyers are holding the puck for longer and taking way more shots than they are allowing. He's got 49 shots on goal, putting him on pace for the most in his career.

Another important improvement has come at even strength, as Voracek leads the league in even-strength points with 16.

Voracek also simply looks more confident and has dominated a ton of shifts so far. For example, there was this one against Anaheim, when he scored the tying goal with only five minutes and 20 seconds left in the third period.

He also took over against Los Angeles and led the team to a big win. Check out this Broad Street Hockey breakdown of two exceptional plays from that game.

It's clear that he's playing the best hockey of his career, and it couldn't come at a better time for Philadelphia. If he keeps it up, who knows just how high a ceiling he can reach?