As 2021 winds down, the close of our Jackets 20 celebration looms near. To date, we’ve profiled 18 of the best and most influential Blue Jackets in club history, which you can read here. That leaves three spots up for grabs, and this season, Jakub Voracek has made a massive push for consideration.
Originally drafted 7th overall in 2007, Voracek had a stat line of 39-95-134 in his first stint in Columbus from 2008 to 2011. That includes 38 points during the magical 2008-09 season, the first in Columbus to feature postseason hockey, fourth best on the team. He followed that up with 50 points in 2009-10 and 46 in 2010-11. His potential was apparent, and his future in Columbus was bright.
And then, he was gone.
On the eve of the 2011 draft, Voracek was traded along with two picks to the Philadelphia Flyers. The return? Jeff Carter.
I mean, you can’t deny it was influential. Without Carter, the team doesn’t trade for Jack Johnson at the 2012 trade deadline. Without Johnson, the team doesn’t go through the culture change that lead to five playoff appearances in seven seasons. Does Rick Nash still get traded (probably)? Do we still acquire Bobrovsky? Foligno? Saad? The what ifs are endless.
Meanwhile, Voracek kept producing for the Flyers, posting 177-427-604 in ten seasons, highlighted by an All-Star selection in 2015, which was coincidentally hosted by Columbus. He twice surpassed 80 points with Philadelphia, and held steady around four points every five games in the past three seasons. It looked like he would stay a Flyer for the rest of his career.
And then, he was back!
Voracek was reacquired this offseason for fellow Jackets 20 inductee Cam Atkinson, Voracek has taken on the mentor role in his fourth season with the club while also creating opportunities for the rest of the team to light the lamp. With 12 assists in 13 games, which leads the club and is top 10 in the NHL, as well as popping one in himself on Saturday, Voracek has played a part in almost a third of the team’s 42 goals through November 15th. He’s been even more influential in reviving the team’s decrepit power play, earning assists in five of the six goals scored on the man advantage that he didn’t put in himself. That means he’s played a part in over 85% of the power play goals this year. Insane.
After a complete overhaul of the leadership group at the trade deadline and in the offseason, his role as a mentor for this young team is perhaps even more vital. His current linemates are rookies Yegor Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger, and he’s frequently seen giving him and his other teammates pointers on the bench and at practice. He’s thrived in an expanded role with his original club, and looks to continue it as these revived Blue Jackets continue to exceed expectations.
What do you guys think? Is Voracek deserving of a Jackets 20 spot? Who should be the final player?