Name: Jakub Voracek
2010-2011 Salary/Cap Hit: $1.213 million / $1.271 million
Last Three Years' Stats:
Jakub Voracek was drafted by the Jackets in the first round, seventh overall in the 2007 Entry Draft. This past season was the last on his entry level deal, and he is a restricted free agent. Should he stay, or should he go?
What's He Worth?
While the entire team can be looked at as disappointing last season, this is especially true for Voracek. It was his third full season in the NHL, and many expected it to be his breakout campaign. He played in only one less game than the season before, yet he scored four fewer points. A vast majority of icetime was on the top line with Rick Nash, but this didn't help his production.
He still has the potential to be a high-end offensive forward-more of a playmaker than a scorer-but his conditioning and consistency need to improve. He's been most often compared to Marian Hossa, and his numbers virtually matched Hossa's over their respective first two seasons, but the difference was Hossa became a star in year three.
In terms of offensive production, this past season Voracek compared with the likes of Dustin Penner (45 points in 81 games), David Jones (45 points in 77 games), Andrew Brunette (46 points in 82 games), Matt D'Agostini (46 points in 82 games), Kris Versteeg (46 points in 80 games) and Blake Comeau (46 points in 77 games). This isn't a slight to these players, but Voracek is too talented to be grouped here. Dustin Penner is overvalued in my opinion, and Kris Versteeg's season can be looked at as a disappointment. Jones, Brunette, D'Agostini and Comeau are complimentary players-Jake should be outscoring them.
In terms of future contract value, I compare him to David Krejci and Joe Pavelski. These players scored 62 and 66 points respectively last season-point totals that Voracek has the potential to put up next season. Krejci will make $4.0 million next season, with a cap hit of $3.75 million. Pavelski will earn $4.0 million next season, with the same cap hit.
What Should The CBJ Offer?
Given the fact that Voracek is a player who hasn't hit his ceiling yet, comparing him to Krejci and Pavelski makes sense. These players have a similar role as Voracek on their respective squads, and the $4.0 million these players are earning would make a good high-water mark for negotiations. A realistic offer from a Columbus perspective would be between $3.25 and $3.5 million, due to Jake's regression last year and questions surrounding his conditioning. A three year deal with a $3.5 million per season cap hit is something the Jackets can stomach, especially if he develops into the star that he is expected to be.
There has been some media speculation about the Jackets offering him as part of a trade package, until that happens I am going to assume he is in the team's roster plans going forward. To answer the original question, yes, he should stay. He's an important part of the team going forward, and is a priority re-signing.