Jakub Voracek has been locked up by the Philadelphia Flyers for eight years at $66 million. For those doing math at home that’s about $8.25 million per-year which kicks in for the 2016-17 season. That’s a hefty raise for the forward, whose prior contract carried a $4.25 million salary cap hit. It runs out after this season. Voracek, 25, was set to hit the unrestricted free agent market next summer, which seems to be dwindling at an alarming rate with Voracek joining Ryan Kesler as marquee names who have signed long-term contracts. Kings forward Anze Kopitar is expected to re-sign with Los Angeles before the start of the season. This puts Voracek in Corey Perry ($8.65 million salary cap hit) and Phil Kessel ($8 million cap hit) territory. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Is he worth that amount? Broad Street Hockey indicates Voracek has been as prolific as any winger during that span. While many have called 2014-15 a breakout year for Voracek, the reality is that he's been an elite player for a while now. Since the 2012-13 lockout ended, there have been exactly zero wingers in the NHL with more assists than Voracek, and only two wingers with more total points. In that same time (arbitrary endpoint warning), just six wingers have scored at a .95 point-per-game pace in multiple seasons -- and Voracek is one of them. And his possession numbers are routinely outstanding, and have only improved with each passing season. He notched 81 points in 82 games last season to finish fifth in the NHL in scoring. Per the NHL’s enhanced stats site, his shot attempts differential was at plus-157 – tops amongst Flyers forwards meaning his team was possessing the puck more, firing more shots on net than the opposition, when he was on the ice. His shot attempts relative percentage was a plus-6.2 according to the NHL's enhanced stats site, meaning when he was on the ice, the Flyers were possessing the puck more than when he was not on the ice. Hockey is full of dynamic duos and the Flyers now have Voracek locked up essentially through the next nine years, and Claude Giroux under contract through 2022. But as TSN’s Frank Seravalli notes, about that pesky salary cap situation where Philly has $61 million committed to 15 players for 2016-17. Hmm, wouldn’t say that’s great planning by the Flyers. But that’s a problem for next offseason. - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
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Generally at various points during summers since 2012, the city of Nashville often heard noise from north of the border. The sounds came from cities (cough, Edmonton, cough) mentioning how the team in that area (the Oilers) would LOVE to trade pretty much everyone on its team for All-Star, All-World, All-Awesome Predators defenseman Shea Weber. The crux of this thinking was easy. Nashville always needed forwards. The Oilers had tons of young forwards. Nashville ‘didn’t have the money’ to pay Philadelphia’s 14-year $110 million offer sheet toward Weber, which included yearly July 1 lump-sum bonuses of $13 million over the first four years of the deal. He’ll get $8 million bonuses the next two summers – not as much but still a lot to give a guy one day of the year. And then the poison pill of the deal will be over in real dollars, though his cap hit will stay close to $8 million. Also, since Weber signed said offer sheet, it was clearly an indication he didn’t want to play in Nashville, right? But there was no way it was going to happen. There was no chance Preds general manager David Poile was going to trade Weber – his captain, best player and symbol of franchise strength. Beyond all the aforementioned issues, Weber was one of the top defensemen in the NHL , and probably one of the league’s 10 best players. You don’t trade guys like that. The previous couple of summers, the timing was never right – Weber signed his offer sheet in 2012. But now, is it really such a bad idea? The answer is no. In fact, trading Weber may actually be the right move for Nashville – especially after the Preds held their own against the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks without Weber in the lineup. He was hurt in the middle of Game 2 of their six-game first-round loss to Chicago with a subluxed kneecap. As good as Weber is, and has been for Nashville, the Predators have never gotten past the second-round of the playoffs with him as the team’s captain. He’s going to be 30 years old next season. And with the Predators seeing dynamic younger players coming through their system, especially at the blueline, is now the time to deal Weber? We give five reasons why Nashville should trade Weber, at least at some point within the next year. 1. The offers will be ridiculously in Nashville’s favor His $7.857 million salary cap hit, while less awful in today’s post 2012-13 lockout world, is a lot. Also, some teams have the money, and the lunacy, to part with multiple good, young NHL-ready forwards Nashville needs. Weber is a physical speciman and cornerstone defenseman, but his perceived value, especially amongst old boys GMs, may be greater than his actual worth. Many probably still drool over this 2010 Olympics shot where the puck went through the net on a goal. The Oilers under former general manager Craig MacTavish always seemed to be hot after Weber. And he’s the type of player the current Edmonton group could use with Connor McDavid coming in. Wait, how would Weber ever allow a trade to EdmonHoth? Oh yeah, the Predators didn’t give him any no-trade clause. So they can deal him to whatever team they want. And new Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli has seemed OK with dealing good, young forwards at points of his career. If you’re going to trade the face of your franchise, you need to make sure you get the right pieces back. There are teams that have the type of NHL-ready young talent who can step in and score right away – like again, Edmonton. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] 2. Nashville is strong on the blueline without Weber With Weber, Nashville is loaded with solid right-handed shooting defensemen. Without Weber, Nashville still has strong right-handed shooting defensemen. Most teams would love to have Seth Jones and Ryan Ellis ... as first and second pairing defensemen. Both are on the second and third paris with Weber in Nashville. The Predators already have two wonderfully underrated blueliners in Roman Josi and advanced stat darling Mattias Ekholm on the left side. Josi’s numbers, from a traditional and advanced perspective, were actually better than Weber’s this past season. Josi had 15 goals and 40 assists to Weber’s 15 goals and 30 assists. If you’re a team with obvious holes, like Nashville does at center, why not deal from a position of strength, being defense, in order to add a center? You really think the Predators can go on a run with a Mike Ribeiro-Mike Fisher duo next year? Nope. Weber is Nashville’s ticket toward getting that precious first-line center commodity. 3. Was 2014-15 just a down year for Weber? Why wait to find out? Weber’s 15 goals were his lowest full-season total of his career. His 45 points were his lowest total since 2009-10. At Nashville’s locker cleanout day, the Predators said he played the end of the year with patella tendonitis . He also had surgery for a subluxed kneecap after Game 2 in the first-round of the playoffs. Knowing Weber, he’ll probably train as hard as humanly possible to put himself back in a position to succeed next year. But why wait to see if there is any residual damage? He’s not in his mid-20s anymore. He’s going to be 30 next year and his value will only drop the longer you hold onto him. On the Forecheck wrote a piece indicating Weber had started his decline and gave us some examples of different defensemen and how their point totals dropped after the age of 30. A prior study showed peak age for a defenseman is around 29 . Unless Weber is built along the same mold as Chris Chelios or Nick Lidstrom, there’s a better chance he’ll decline than maintain his 15-20 goal, 45-50 point per-season total. 4. Nashville’s 2016 RFA summer Poile has always been smart about giving good value contracts to his players. Josi looks like a steal at seven years, $28 million. Jones and Forsberg will both hit the end of their entry-level contracts next summer. As a rookie last year, Forsberg (26 goals, 62 points) already bested Brandon Saad’s single-season career highs for goals and points. Saad is a big, power winger making $6 million per-year over the next six years , a mega-raise from his entry-level contract. In fact he wanted such a raise that the Blackhawks did the once unthinkable and traded him to Columbus . He also has won two Stanley Cups, but that deal has to be a starting point for Forsberg – provided he builds on last season. Also, what will Jones ask for in his next contract?
|Puck Daddy||Chicagoin 7||Great, gritty battle between two teams loaded with big names and quality grunts. The Hossa Hex ends, much to our chagrin.|
|Sam McCaig||Chicagoin 6||Chicago's depth, skill and speed will prove to be too much for Philadelphia to overcome, and the 'Hawks can keep pace physically with the Flyers.|
|Ross McKeon||Chicagoin 6||The 'Hawks are poised to win their first Cup since 1961, but if we’ve learned anything from these playoffs it’s to expect the unexpected.|
|Matt Romig||Chicagoin 6||Give the 'Hawks the edge in skill, speed and special teams. Philly brings enough intangibles to extend an otherwise one-sided series.|