By Barbara Harrison
Flyers’ general manager continued his busy off-season yesterday with great news:
Jakub Voracek and the Flyers agreed to a multiyear contract extension Thursday. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but TSN reports it is for eight years and $66 million, an average annual value of $8.25 million.
“Once the season ends, you start looking at your priorities, and clearly [signing Voracek to an extension] was our No. 1 priority,” Hextall said. “The Jake Voraceks of the world are few and far between, and he’s certainly not a player that we were willing to take the risk of losing.”
Voracek, 25, is entering the final year of the contract he signed with the Flyers in July 2012.
“It’s a pleasure to be a part of the organization for hopefully, minimum, nine years, and hopefully we can get that silver Stanley Cup to Philly one day,” Voracek said.
Voracek and Flyers captain Claude Giroux are one of the highest-scoring duos in the NHL, combining for 302 points the past two seasons.
“Obviously, they’ve been dynamite together and we expect them to continue on,” Hextall said. “So that was a big part of our emphasis. I think when you build a team, you look at pairs, and I think the pair of [Voracek and Giroux] is very good, certainly one of the top pairs in the League.”
Voracek, who will turn 26 on Aug. 15, set NHL career highs with 59 assists (second in the League) and 81 points (fourth) last season to lead Philadelphia; his 22 goals were third. He was the first Flyers player named an NHL First Team All-Star since John LeClair in 1997-98.
Voracek said he and Giroux have room to improve as they head into their fourth season playing on the Flyers’ top line.
“I think we can get better because we got better every single year we’ve played together so far,” Voracek said. “So I don’t see [any] reason why we couldn’t get better. I think with me and [Giroux], most important is to stay at the same level of playing for all 82 games and then following by the playoffs.”
The Flyers have $61.2 million committed to 15 players for the 2016-17 season, when Voracek’s new contract begins, according to war-on-ice.com, making it important that some prospects make the jump to the NHL.
“We didn’t expect to get Jake at a low number,” Hextall said. “We knew this was coming. Again, the development part of our organization, we have a huge emphasis on that right now, and that’s not going to stop. … I think when neither side is necessarily thrilled with the deal, you probably made a fair deal. And I think if you look at the market right now, this is a fair deal for us and a fair deal for Jake.”
The average annual value of Voracek’s contract extension is $25,000 less than that of Giroux’s eight-year, $66.2 million contract, which runs through 2021-22.
On Tuesday, the Flyers signed 22-year-old center Sean Couturier to a multiyear contract extension that Sportsnet reported is for six years and $26 million (an AAV of $4.3 million).
Voracek was acquired on June 23, 2011, as part of a trade that sent Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-2, 214-pound right wing has 85 goals and 153 assists in 290 games with the Flyers.
Columbus selected Voracek in the first round (No. 7) at the 2007 NHL Draft. A native of Kladno, Czech Republic, he had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut Oct. 10, 2008, when he was 19 years old.
Voracek has 124 goals and 248 assists in 531 games with the Flyers and Blue Jackets.