I don’t think many of us could have foreseen the trade of Cam Atkinson for Jakub Voráček when the deal went down between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers on July 24 during the NHL Draft. Nearly a month since then, and with training camp a month away, we wanted to learn more about the trade reaction and so much more as Voráček is set to embark on his reunion in Columbus.
To get the scoop we go to our sister site on the SB Nation Network, Broad Street Hockey, as Kelly Hinkle answers our questions about Atkinson, Voráček, and so much more!
Will: How was this trade for Cam Atkinson perceived among the Philadelphia Flyers fan base?
Kelly: This seemed to be a universally approved trade among the Flyers’ fan base. First of all, Cam Atkinson seems to be an absolute DELIGHT and wasted no time ingratiating himself with the fan base. Social media presence, hype videos, hanging with Gritty, the whole thing. So when you see that guy coming in to your team you can’t help but be excited. And, for whatever reason, Jake Voracek seemed to be The Guy fans had decided needed to be shipped out in order for the Flyers to execute the culture change that seemed to be needed with this team. He’s always been a good player for the Flyers but I think the combination of him being with the team for a very long time, being the guy that could actually be traded (Giroux has a no move), and being kind of a brash personality meant that, for most Flyers fans, Jake had to go.
Will: Cam can finish, but he’s battled injuries and on-ice inconsistencies since players like Artemi Panarin left; Voracek should be able to drive plays. How do you see Atkinson fitting in for Philly?
Kelly: I think he’s going to fit in great; the Flyers are in desperate need of guys that will actually shoot the puck. The Flyers had a lot of guys like Jake that are great at setting up plays but there always seemed to be one too many passes, one too many moves, and no one actually taking a good shot on net. If Cam can be that guy, he’s going to fill a big need for the Flyers immediately.
Will: Do you feel like the Flyers are better-suited with Atkinson going forward versus Voracek?
Kelly: I think right now, Chuck Fletcher made the right move. Cam gives the team a tiny bit more cap flexibility, brings a great positive attitude to the locker room, and like I said, will actually put the puck on net. The Flyers needed every single one of those things and to get them in one guy is great.
Will: What’s your perspective on putting Voracek with a pure shooter like Patrik Laine?
Kelly: I have to tell you, I don’t watch a ton of CBJ games outside of their games against the Flyers and I am VERY EXCITED about the possibility of watching Jake Voracek play with Laine. It’s a match made in heaven if it works well: the play driver setting things up, the sniper putting things home. If that combo works I think you guys are going to have a lot of fun with it.
Will: Have their been any signs of age-related decline with Voracek? Any injury concerns?
Kelly: I think there’s bit a little bit of age-related decline but Jake will still reliably bring you 50-60 points a season. With Laine?? He could get back to 80 points. He’s always been a productive player for the Flyers.
Will: What roles did Voracek play on the power play, if any? Was he effective?
Kelly: He had a spot on the Flyers first unit and did well there, considering how bad the Flyers power play has been over the last several years.
Will: Could lack of a true 1C inhibit his ability to drive play?
Kelly: I don’t think so. Jake is a playmaker, what he needs is a finisher. On the power play he definitely benefited from having Claude Giroux setting things up, but at 5 on 5 I don’t think he needs a 1C to get the job done.
Will: Not sure what the CBJ forward lines will be but I think we’re a little intrigued with some combo including Laine, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and then a glut of younger talent whether that be Alexandre Texier and others.
Is there a specific line combo you think makes sense for Voracek?
Kelly: Like I said, I don’t watch a ton of CBJ games, definitely not to form an informed opinion about line combos. But I know Patrik Laine. And I know he can shoot. And I know Jack Voracek. And I know he can set them up. So in my mind, you’d be nuts not to put those two together and see what happens. I know I’ll be watching if they do.